Nick Kyrgios has narrowly avoided being defaulted at the Cincinnati Masters after blasting a ball into the crowd during his match against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Tuesday.
Kyrgios rebounded from a three-set quarter-final loss to Hubert Hurkacz in Montreal last week with a relatively comfortable 7-5 6-4 win over the Spaniard in his tournament opener.
"It was a tricky match. The conditions here are much different to Montreal. It's more lively and hard to keep the ball in," Kyrgios said.
"I just mentally played the big points well. He's a hell of a tricky player. He's so talented, he's got so many shots at his disposal.
"So I knew I had to serve well and try to dictate as much as I can because his backhand's incredible."
However the win wasn't without controversy after Kyrgios smashed a ball into the crowd during the second set, but appeared to avoid hitting any spectators.
The Aussie star was left highly frustrated after being broken early in the set, directing his anger at his entourage like he usually does.
Kyrgios fired a number of expletives towards his girlfriend and trainers in the box before launching a ball into the crowd.
Spectators then loudly booed the World No.28 for his troubles before he was hit a code violation from the chair umpire.
However some felt Kyrgios should have been disqualified for the dangerous act, much like he thought Stefanos Tsitsipas should have been during their fiery clash at Wimbledon.
Should have been defaulted!
— Karen Kennedy ☮️ (@KareNadalmama) August 16, 2022
From Magic to mischief… Kyrgios has just smashed the ball into the crowd
Gets a violation but wonder if he thinks he should be disqualified?
On a separate note, great to hear Amazon mic up the coaching boxpic.twitter.com/r5hybD4FYX
— Oscar (@Oscar_reports) August 16, 2022
ya wtf is the ump doing. Kyrgios' was much worse than Fokina's.
— Michael King (@michaelsking93) August 16, 2022
Kyrgios just launched a call into the crowd after having his serve broken. Must not have hit anyone cause he wasn’t defaulted. Bickering at his player’s box and hitting balls into the stands. SSDD. @CincyTennis
— HoldingServePodcast (@HoldingServePod) August 16, 2022
kyrgios throwing the ball into the crowd he literally never learns lmao
— doj (@zmiganti) August 16, 2022
Fokina's made more errors than ever. And Kyrgios should have been disqualified for very dangerously smashing the ball into the crowd. One difference between Connors and Kyrgios? Connors was the most popular player on the tour.
— Jimmy Scott (@joe8715) August 16, 2022
Alex de Minaur wins, Thanasi Kokkinakis loses
Kyrgios, who finished runner-up at Wimbledon last month, next faces big-hitting American Taylor Fritz.
"Fritzy's a good friend of mine. We represented the World together at Laver Cup," Kyrgios said.
"He's an all-round player. Got a huge serve, likes to play on the front foot. Similar to myself. There's going to be a lot of big serving but we'll see how it goes."
Fritz is chasing a 17th win from 19 matches as he continues his promising build-up to the US Open starting in less than two weeks.
Alex de Minaur also marched on, however fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis lost a titanic encounter that would have befitted a much grander stage than the Cincinnati Masters first round.
De Minaur also advanced in straight sets, dismissing Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen 6-2 6-2 in 67 minutes.
The Australian No.1 now meets Canada's seventh-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime, who had a first-round bye.
But Kokkinakis has been left to focus on the doubles with Kyrgios after losing a three-hour, 15-minute cliff-hanger to Italian World No.12 Jannik Sinner.
In a thrilling encounter full of excellent, attacking tennis, Sinner denied Kokkinakis 6-7 (9-11) 6-4 7-6 (8-6).
Kokkinakis led 5-4 in the final-set tiebreak, but Sinner, on his 21st birthday, nailed a forehand down-the-line winner then forced a match point with a nerveless drop shot.
Kokkinakis saved that, but a backhand into the net gave his opponent another chance that Sinner sealed when the South Australian fired a forehand long.
"I love to play tennis and to do the thing you love on your birthday is the best thing you can do," said a relieved Sinner.
"Today was a happy ending so I'm very happy with that."
Kokkinakis had begun strongly, forcing three break points in the opening game of the match.
He was unable to claim the break, though, as an entertaining first set ended up being decided in a mammoth, topsy-turvy tiebreak.
Australia's World No.75 eventually nabbed it on his fourth set point before Sinner levelled the match then cruelly denied Kokkinakis a big win in the third-set tiebreak.
Kokkinakis remains alive in the doubles, with he and Kyrgios, the 2022 Australian Open champions, to face top seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury for a place in the quarter-finals.
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