Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Bay Boys. Whatcha Gonna Do? If you’re Nick Kyrgios you’re going to argue, curse, pout, slam your racket onto the court and brazenly feign sleep during the changeover. By any means necessary or at least, by any means noticeable. Those theatrics have become the norm for the No. 37 ranked Australian this season, and his first round, 5–7, 3–6, 6–4, 1–6 loss to No. 3 seed Andy Murray in the U.S. Open was no different.
Playing in his first Grand Slam match since being fined $25,000 for comments he made about Stan Wawrinka's girlfriend during the ATP Masters tournament in Montreal last month, all eyes were on Kyrgios at the Open, but not for his style of play. Tennis fans were chomping at the bit to see which Kyrgios would show up to face Murray in New York. Would it be the promising heavy hitter who upset then No. 1 ranked Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2014? Or would it be the petulant, trash-talking, tattoo-laden ruffian who seems to thrive on vulgarity and controversy.
It turned out to be a little bit of both. Despite small flashes of brilliance on his serve (11 aces, one for 135 mph), shot selection (a brazen, between-the-legs return shot down the base line to wow fans in the first set) and amazing court coverage, neither Kyrgios’s game nor his brawn were a match for Murray, a two-time Grand Slam champion, who was poised and precise all night, serving 18 aces and breaking Kyrgios’s serve seven times. The 28-year-old Scot, who himself at times has been known to be a bit brash and petulant on the court, decided to sit this drama-fest out and let Kyrgios slowly implode on his own.
“He's unpredictable, sure,” said Murray after the match. “But he can play all of the shots, he serves extremely well, he's a fantastic athlete, a big guy, covers the court extremely well.”
After fans took their time getting seated during a changeover in he first set, Kyrgios vigorously barked at the chair umpire, “What the hell are they doing letting people in, in the middle of the game?” He then went Rambo on his racket several times, and after losing the second set, he seemingly fell asleep in his chair during the changeover: head back, eyes closed, legs sprawled about. “I was just taking a nap, I guess,” Kyrgios said in the post match press conference. “It’s good for you.”
In his quest to be the “Next Big Tennis Thing,” Kyrgios should take a step of out Murray’s championship playbook and focus more on tennis rather than the side-show. Without any weeping and gnashing of teeth, Murray shook off an early break in the first set before winning the set with a lightning-fast return. He then sawed off seven break points on his way to winning the second set. After a double fault gave the third set to Kyrgios, Murray raced through the fourth set in a little over 20 minutes to win 6–1 and take the four set victory. He’ll next face Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in the second round on Thursday. Kyrgios, meanwhile, is scheduled to play mixed doubles with Eugenie Bouchard at the Open before traveling to Scotland for Australia's Davis Cup semi-final against Great Britain—and a possible rematch with Murray. Here’s hoping he can at least stay awake.