'Crossed a line': Umpire banned for Kyrgios pep talk

The chair umpire who climbed out of his seat to talk with Nick Kyrgios during a US Open match has been suspended for two tournaments by the ATP.

Mohamed Lahyani will not officiate at his next two scheduled events – the China Open in Beijing, which starts on October 1, and the Shanghai Masters the following week.

The ATP says Layhani’s actions during Kyrgios’ second-round victory over Pierre-Hugues Herbert at Flushing Meadows on August 30 were ”deemed to have compromised the impartiality that is required of an official.”

According to the statement, he is one of seven full-time ATP chair umpires. As a full-time employee, he is subject to tour discipline, even though what he did came at the U.S. Open, which is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Tennis Association.

Kyrgios, a 23-year-old Australian, did not appear to be putting forth much effort while dropping the first set and falling behind 0-3 in the second against Herbert.

During a changeover, Lahyani left his chair – a rare sight in Grand Slam tennis – to speak to Kyrgios, leaning with hands on knees while saying, “I want to help you.”

Nick Kyrgios received a mid-match pep talk from Mohamed Lahyani. Pic: ESPN

The 30th seed wound up beating Herbert 4-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 6-0, then lost to Roger Federer in his next match.

Herbert said at the time he thought Lahyani should be sanctioned in some way.

“This was not his job. I don’t think he’s a coach, he’s an umpire, and he should stay on his chair for that,” Herbert said.

Kyrgios, meanwhile, laughed at the idea that he had received coaching or a pep talk from Lahyani.

The next day, USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said Lahyani had gone “beyond our protocol”, but would be allowed to continue to work matches during the US Open because of his “exemplary track record as an international tennis official”.

Lahyani then was assigned to umpire doubles matches during that tournament.

“Mohamed is a world-class and highly respected official. However, his actions during the match crossed a line that compromised his own impartiality as a chair umpire,” Gayle Bradshaw, ATP executive vice president of rules and competition, said in Tuesday’s statement.

“Although well-intended, his actions were regrettable and cannot go without disciplinary action on our own Tour. We know that he will learn from this experience and we look forward to welcoming him back in October.”

Lahyani will be able to resume umpiring at the Stockholm Open on October 15.