Nick Kyrgios completely lost the plot as his fine run at the Miami Open came to an abrupt halt in a straight-sets defeat to Jannik Sinner in the fourth round.
The fiery Australian became embroiled in an ongoing verbal battle with both himself and chair umpire Carlos Bernardes that completely undermined his performance in what was initially a tight encounter.
In contrast, Sinner remained ice cool and fully focused to book a place in the quarter-finals with a 7-6(3) 6-3 victory.
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Reflecting on how he avoided being distracted by the circus at the other end of the net, Sinner told Amazon Prime: “I just tried to stay in the present moment. I know that he can raise his level immediately, especially when he breaks. At 4-3 (in the second set) if I serve worse there, he can get back into the match. I tried to stay calm somehow and think I’ve done a great job today.
He continued: “Today, I raised my level a bit. I tried to play a bit more aggressive. The conditions are a bit easier, it’s not as windy. I tried to stay close to the lines. I also served well in important moments. It can give me a lot of confidence for the next round.”
Sinner, who saved a combined total of eight match points in his wins over Emil Ruusuvuori and Pablo Carreno Busta earlier in the week, let rip with a couple of explosive forehand winners early in the contest to suggest the crowd on Grandstand were in for a treat.
The 20-year-old Italian then came under intense pressure as he was forced to fend off break points in successive service games.
Kyrgios was evidently frustrated by the missed opportunities and began to vent in trademark style. First up, he criticised the speed of the court, suggesting it was much slower than on Stadium where he had comfortably seen off Andrey Rublev and Fabio Fognini in his previous matches.
"It’s completely different," vented Kyrgios. "You think anyone is going tell the players that it’s completely different before the event starts or 'hey guys, just to let you know, centre court is completely different to the Grandstand for some odd reason'. May as well be grass and clay. What a joke."
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The world No. 102 refocused in time to save two break points to level at 4-4 but was irritated by the volume of the chair umpire’s walkie-talkie at the end of the following game as Sinner applied scoreboard pressure.
“Unbelievable!” he screamed as he sat down in his chair. “It's the fourth round at Miami - one of the biggest tournaments – and you guys can’t do your jobs. It’s embarrassing!”
"He should be fired on the spot. Get a new set of referees, these guys don’t know how to do s***. It's a joke. Get rid of every single staff and start over. Everything. I will run the sport. I could do 100 times a better job. Marketing. Everything. You guys have no idea. None. You guys can’t even ref right."
The sideshow continued between games as Kyrgios lamented shouts from the crowd during points before a high-octane set fittingly went to a tie break.
With the stakes raised, Kyrgios buckled, slamming his racquet to the floor as he fell 3-1 behind in the breaker. His incessant monologue and profanity led Bernardes to issue him with a point penalty that saw him trail 6-3 and he double faulted to gift the set to his opponent. It was too much for Kyrgios who wouldn’t let it go.
- “I didn’t say anything,” screamed Kyrgios in irritation at what was a crucial moment to be handed a point penalty. “What’s unsportsmanlike about it…?” he repeatedly asked.
“I was talking to my friend… get me someone now!"
“Just play,” replied the umpire trying to diffuse the situation.
Kyrgios walked back to his chair and continually slammed his racquet into his bag, leaving Bernardes with no real alternative other than to issue him with a game penalty that cost him his serve right at the start of the second set.
Sinner duly consolidated, showing real maturity and class as he pushed the theatrics at the opposite end of the court to one side to lead 4-2 heading into the business end of the set.
Kyrgios tried to up the ante late in the day but Sinner broke again to book a place in the last eight after one hour and 39 memorable minutes.
Sinner will next face either Frances Tiafoe or Francisco Cerundolo.
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