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US Open umpire in Kyrgios row ‘went beyond protocol’, escapes sanction

New York, United States: Mohamed Lahyani, the US Open umpire who came down from his chair to give Australia's Nick Kyrgios a controversial pep talk, "went beyond protocol" but will be allowed to continue officiating, organisers said Friday.

"The US Open determined that chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani's conduct during Thursday’s second-round match involving Nick Kyrgios and Pierre-Hugues Herbert went beyond protocol," said a statement.

"Lahyani was advised to adhere to proper protocols in all matches that he officiates moving forward.

"Lahyani will continue to officiate during the 2018 US Open. His performance will continue to be evaluated, as will that of all chair umpires throughout the course of the US Open."

The 52-year-old Lahyani stunned the tournament when he climbed off his chair on Court 17 and stood over a below-par Kyrgios who was a set and 3-0 down and sinking fast.

"I want to help you," Lahyani could be heard saying to the player as questions on an official's impartiality began to be raised on social media.

"This isn't you. I know that. I have seen your matches. You are great for tennis."

After the impromptu pep talk, 30th seed Kyrgios went on to capture 19 of the next 25 games, claiming a 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3, 6-0 win and a third round clash against Roger Federer.

On Friday, Lahyani was assigned just one match to officiate at the US Open — a low-key second round men's doubles match out on Court 13.

Kyrgios insisted that Lahyani's intervention had no effect at all on his performance but the Swedish official was widely lambasted by players, coaches and fans who argued that he had over-stepped the mark.

Not his role 

Five-time US Open champion Federer said Lahyani had been wrong to interfere.

"It's not the umpire's role to go down from the chair. But I get what he was trying to do. He behaves the way he behaves," said the 20-time major winner.

"You as an umpire take a decision on the chair, do you like it or don't you like it. But you don't go and speak like that, in my opinion."

Tournament referee Brian Earley added a bizarre twist by claiming that Lahyani had only come down from his chair as the noise from the crowd made it impossible for him to communicate with the Australian.

Herbert said he intended to confront Lahyani.

"I don't think he's a coach, he's an umpire," said the 27-year-old who also accused the United States Tennis Association (USTA) of "taking me for a fool".

Meanwhile, former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash tweeted that Lahyani should quit and face a full, independent investigation.

"Wrong on so many levels. #bias. This isn't a junior tournament. Integrity Unit will be looking at this. Sorry to say but he really should resign his position immediately," said the Australian.

However, ex-world number one and 2003 US Open champion Andy Roddick said Lahyani was guilty of nothing more than a misjudgement.

"Lahyani is a good man who genuinely cares about people. I really like him as a human….. he did something he shouldn't have," tweeted the American.

"This is behaviour we should see more of these days. Unfortunately it was the wrong time/place for it."

Lahyani's umpiring career has included officiating the longest ever singles match at Wimbledon in 2010 when John Isner beat Nicolas Mahut in an 11-hour, five-minute epic spread over three days. 

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