Nick Kyrgios seemed to have set himself on a slightly healthier and certainly more productive path this month at the Citi Open in Washington. Sure, he smashed rackets, blasted a ball out of the stadium in frustration and hurled invective at umpires (calling one a “potato with legs and arms”), but he also won the tournament, defeating two top-10 opponents.

Afterward he seemed to display a newfound serenity, a condition that has eluded the 24-year-old over the course of his tumultuous career.

“This has been one of the best weeks of my life – not just on the court but in my life,” he told reporters. “I feel like I’ve made major strides.”

“A lot of habits needed to change. I just had a lot of unhealthy habits and it was starting to show on the tennis court. It was too up and down. It wasn’t healthy.”

But Kyrgios’s newfound calm lasted barely more than a week; he fell apart Wednesday night during a second-round loss to eighth-seeded Karen Khachanov at the Cincinnati Masters.

After coming back to take the first set in a tiebreaker, Kyrgios came unglued in the second when chair umpire Fergus Murphy (the same one he likened to a human potato in Washington) gave him a warning about taking too much time between serves.

Between games, Kyrgios unloaded on Murphy about how Rafael Nadal never gets warned about the time he takes between serves.

In the third set, Kyrgios received a code violation after calling Murphy “the worst (expletive) referee ever,” then asked for a bathroom break. He proceeded to smash two rackets in a hallway (and did not appear to use the facilities), eventually receiving another time violation warning while regripping his next racket.

Kyrgios didn’t appear to exert much effort in that third set, which he lost, 6-2, and after an awkward embrace with Khachanov at the net, had more words for Murphy and appeared to spit in his general direction.

On Thursday the ATP fined Kyrgios $113,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct, verbal abuse and leaving the court during Wednesday’s match. The tour also said it is investigating whether “additional action is warranted under the Player Major Offense section of the code,” which could result in an additional fine and/or a suspension.

The ATP listed a breakdown of eight fines ranging from $3,000 to $20,000 each for violations such as unsportsmanlike conduct, verbal abuse and audible obscenity. The tour also said it is “looking further into what happened during and immediately after the match” to determine whether additional fines or a suspension is warranted.

Kyrgios, a 24-year-old Australian who is ranked 27th this week, was kicked out of the Italian Open in May after throwing a chair and being suspended by the ATP in 2016 for not trying to win and insulting fans during the Shanghai Masters.


SEVEN-TIME champion Roger Federer was ousted from one of his favorite tournaments in only 61 minutes Thursday, falling in straight sets to a 21-year-old qualifier he’d never faced. Andre Rublev – with only one career win over a top-five player to his credit – took advantage of Federer’s numerous mistakes for a 6-3, 6-4 victory that further depleted the top of the men’s bracket.

Federer has won the tournament more than anyone, using it as a springboard to the U.S. Open. He had 16 unforced errors against the 70th-ranked Rublev, who raised both fists and wiped a teary eye in celebration after Federer’s forehand sailed long to end it. Struggling with his serve, Federer got broken twice in the first set.

In the women’s bracket, top-seeded Ashleigh Barty reached the quarterfinals, joined by a resurgent Venus Williams.

Barty beat Anett Kontaveit 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, raising her fist in triumph after fighting off one match point to take the 2-hour, 10-minute match.

She was down a break in the second set before rallying on a day when she struggled to find consistency.

With the crowd cheering for her, Williams recovered from a rough first set and beat Donna Vekic 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, her best stretch of tennis since capturing three consecutive matches in March at Miami.

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