Meltdown in Miami: Kyrgios loses cool and match

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Nick Kyrgios lost his cool, then a point, then a game and then the match.

The all-too-familiar trend that has often overshadowed the super-popular, super-talented and super-perplexing Australian’s career path continued Tuesday at the Miami Open, where Kyrgios was ousted in the fourth round by No. 9 seed Jannik Sinner of Italy 7-6 (3), 6-3.

How the match was won likely won’t be remembered. Kyrgios’ meltdown will be. His afternoon was replete with racket throws and smashes, plenty of heated words with chair umpire Carlos Bernardes and even a fan somehow trying to get a selfie when tensions were at their peak.

When it was over, Kyrgios was gracious with his opponent, shaking his hand at the net and exchanging a few pleasantries. Sinner then shook hands with Bernardes, as is tradition, but Kyrgios passed by him and got in a few more words before packing up his racket bag and walking off the court.

Kyrgios was in such a hurry to leave that he departed without grabbing the red-white-and-black Nike sneakers that were next to his seat. He had a doubles match to play later Tuesday and tournament officials said he planned on holding a news conference after that match.

Kyrgios spoke earlier in this tournament about how he took inspiration from women’s star Naomi Osaka and the way she has shed light on the mental health concerns that even elite athletes can face. He acknowledged that has worked through it as well.

“I felt like I constantly played so much under that mental stress and negativity that I genuinely just couldn’t function anymore with the pressure,” Kyrgios said earlier this week. “I couldn’t function with the negativity. Every day was just constant negativity from you guys, from eventually my family, eventually from my friends, from everyone. There was no positivity, and it was just eating me up and I just genuinely hated my life. It’s taken a long time … but I’m just happy now.”

He also expressed extreme confidence in his game earlier this tournament, as well.

“I feel like tactically I’m one of the best players on tour,” he said. “I feel like I’m very tactically switched on.”

The happiness got away from him earlier this month at Indian Wells. After losing in the quarterfinals there to Rafael Nadal and shaking hands, Kyrgios went to his seat and smashed his racket — which wound up nearly striking a ball boy. That earned him a $25,000 fine for a combination of his antics and an audible obscenity.

Another fine might be coming, since that his professed happiness wasn’t there Tuesday, either.

The fireworks began in earnest during a first-set tiebreaker, when Kyrgios missed a forehand wide and then slammed his racket to the court. He was already upset with Bernardes, for reasons that weren’t immediately clear.

“You have no idea. You have absolutely no idea,” Kyrgios told the umpire during the changeover, when he trailed the tiebreak 4-2.

He double-faulted to go down 5-2, seemed to be speaking to someone near the side of the court, then gave a brief yell. He got a point back to go down 5-3, and that’s when Bernardes apparently had heard enough and issued Kyrgios a point penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“You’re talking about me,” Bernardes told Kyrgios, who insisted he was merely talking to a friend seated nearby.

Kyrgios then double-faulted to lose the set and that’s when emotions truly spilled over.

“What’s unsportsmanlike? What is unsportsmanlike?” he asked Bernardes repeatedly, before screaming that he wanted to talk to a tournament official.

“Get me someone now!” Kyrgios said, then smashed his racket on the court four times. That’s when Bernardes issued the game penalty, putting Kyrgios down a break before the second set even started, and Sinner kept the lead the rest of the way.

This is far from the first time the on-court antics have overshadowed play.

In 2019, Kyrgios walked off the court and threw a chair onto the red clay during his second-round match at the Italian Open, leading to him being defaulted and fined. Kyrgios was suspended by the ATP Tour for two months in 2016 for “tanking” a match and insulting fans during a loss at the Shanghai Masters. And in 2015, Kyrgios insulted Stan Wawrinka with crude remarks during a match in Montreal, earning him a $12,500 fine and a suspended 28-day ban.

“There is no time for regret for me, and I just get on with it now,” Kyrgios said earlier this week. “I just try and be positive, try and help others, and try and uplift.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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