THE Swedish umpire who gave a pep talk to Nick Kyrgios during a US Open match this year has been suspended without pay for two weeks, the ATP Tour have announced.
Mohamed Lahyani got down from his chair to offer some words of encouragement to the Australian No. 1, who was a set and a break down to Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert during a second-round clash in New York nearly three weeks ago.
The Swede gestured and pleaded with Kyrgios — who has been fined by the ATP in the past for lack of effort — telling him “I want to help you” and “I’ve seen your matches: you’re great for tennis … I know this is not you.”
Kyrgios’s level of play rose dramatically after the bizarre incident and he went on to win the match in four sets.
An internal ATP review decided Lahyani’s actions were deemed to have compromised the impartiality required of an official.
“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 of Rules & Competition, said in a 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.”
Australian former high level umpire Richard Ings supported the ban, tweeting: “Well intentioned Mo but way way way too chummy. You can’t be liked by everyone mate.”
He was also criticised at the time by Roger Federer.
“It’s not the umpire’s role to go down from the chair,” Federer said. “I get what he was trying to do. He behaves the way he behaves and then you decide if you like it or you don’t like it.
“But you don’t go speak like that.
“I don’t know what he said, I don’t care what he said. It was not just about how you’re feeling, ‘Oh, I am not feeling well.’
“He was down there for too long. It was a conversation and conversations change mindsets.
“That’s why it won’t happen again and everybody knows that.
“It’s not the umpire’s role to go down from the chair. You don’t go and speak like that.”
Lahyani, who was next scheduled to work at the China Open and Shanghai Masters, will return to the umpire’s chair during the October 15-21 at the Stockholm Open.
While the incident took place at a tournament that falls under the jurisdiction of the US Tennis Association, it was still subject to ATP disciplinary action due to Lahyani’s position as full-time ATP employee.