Chair Umpire Who Counseled Nick Kyrgios Is Suspended by ATP Tour

Mohamed Lahyani, the Swedish chair umpire who gave an on-court pep talk to Nick Kyrgios during a match at this year’s United States Open, has been suspended without pay for two weeks by the ATP Tour because of the incident.

Lahyani, one of tennis’s leading umpires, came down from his chair with Kyrgios trailing by a set and a break of serve in his second-round match with Pierre-Hugues Herbert on Aug. 30.

“I want to help you,” Lahyani said to Kyrgios, the unpredictable Australian star who has been fined and suspended for lack of effort in the past. “This isn’t you. I know that.”

Kyrgios went on to win the match, and though he denied the discussion had any impact on his performance, Herbert and others complained about Lahyani’s actions.

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

Roger Federer also made clear that he believed Lahyani had crossed a line.

“He was there for too long,” Federer said at the Open. “It’s a conversation. Conversations can change your mind-set. It can be a physio, a doctor, an umpire for that matter. That’s why it won’t happen again. I think everybody knows that.”

U.S. Open organizers elected not to suspend Lahyani from further duties at the tournament but did release a critical statement that said Lahyani’s conduct “went beyond protocol” and that he had been “advised to adhere to proper protocols in all matches that he officiates moving forward.”

Lahyani did not work any high-profile singles matches for the remainder of the tournament. But his primary employer, the ATP Tour, felt that a stronger punishment was in order. He is one of seven full-time chair umpires on the men’s tour.

“Despite the incident taking place at the U.S. Open, under the jurisdiction of the United States Tennis Association, the incident was still subject to ATP disciplinary action due to Lahyani’s position as full-time ATP employee and the high standards the ATP requires of its chair umpires regardless of the event to which he or she is assigned, in order to maintain the integrity of the Tour,” the ATP Tour said in a statement released after a request for comment from The New York Times.

Lahyani will be suspended for the China Open in Beijing and the Shanghai Masters, where he was scheduled to officiate in early October. He is expected to return to work at the Stockholm event that begins Oct. 15.

It is rare for an ATP chair umpire to be suspended, and even rarer for one to be suspended without pay. The ATP does not disclose umpires’ compensation.

“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 David Bradshaw, the ATP’s executive vice president for rules and competition, said in the 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.”

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