Yoshihito Nishioka has triumphed over Australian hopeful Alexei Popyrin in a tense match at the Adelaide Open, dampened only by a late injury to the home star. Nishioka was the centre of wild scenes early in the match after an extraordinary blow-up at chair umpire Christian Rask.
Popyrin had the upper hand early in the first set, leading 3-1 before the moment that sparked the Japanese star's fury. After successfully challenging a call against a winner of his ruled out, Nishioka exploded when Rask ordered the point be replayed, declaring the initial call of 'out' had hindered Popyrin's return.
He quickly lost his cool, first informing the umpire that it was a 'clean winner mate', before yelling out 'bulls***' after losing the subsequent point. He was handed a violation for an audible obscenity - a punishment that should come as no surprise to any professional player - but this turn of events only fuelled the fire.
Channel Nine commentator Adam Peacock described Nishioka as an 'emotional guy' as his outburst began, and the audience soon saw why. After falling behind 15-40 in the point, Nishioka demanded Rask bring his supervisor onto the court for a discussion.
When ATP supervisor Stefan Franzen made his way onto the court, Nishioka was further frustrated when it quickly became apparent his appeals would get him nowhere. "Why I have to get a court violation? You don't change anything. That was a very important point and now I'm losing. There was a chance to break his service game but he took it," Nishioka argued.
Franzen simply instructed the world No.36 that he had to accept the umpire's decision - which was met with a vent about a supposed lack of accountability for chair umpires. "Chair umpires never say 'I'm wrong.' They always say 'I'm right, that's wrong.' That's crazy. It always happens, this conversation," Nishioka fumed.
Tennis great Roger Rasheed was less than impressed with Nishioka's outburst. "This is pretty poor. For someone who is 36 in the world and 27 (years old), a little bit disappointing that he's taking this long to get through his rant."
Alex Popyrin suffers worrying complaint in Adelaide International loss
Remarkably, despite his outburst Nishioka eventually came back to win the first set in a tiebreak. Popyrin wouldn't put his strong start to waste though, battling back to claim the second set via his own tiebreak winner.
It was there that the Australian hopeful appeared to run out of steam, with Nishioka quickly working his way to a 5-2 lead. It was at this point that an ailing Popyrin called for a medical timeout.
The 23-year-old's run at the event would sadly come to an end in the quarter-final, with the treatment he received for what appeared to be a chest ailment wasn't enough to help him pull off an extraordinary comeback. While the 6-7(4-7), 7-6(10-8), 6-2 defeat would no doubt sting the Aussie, his performance in Adelaide was nonetheless an encouraging sign ahead of the Australian Open.
After making his way through qualifiers, Popyrin managed to defeat World No.6 Felix Auger-Aliassime in the opening round. That victory came on the same day Alex de Minaur recorded a stunning victory over reigning Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal at the United Cup.