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Nick Kyrgios cool enough for win despite rain and row

By Paul Newman

Published 23/05/2016

Winning start: Nick Kyrgios hits a backhand during his first round match against Marco Cecchinato at Roland Garros
Winning start: Nick Kyrgios hits a backhand during his first round match against Marco Cecchinato at Roland Garros

In an ever-changing world it is good to know that there are two things in tennis on which you can usually rely.

Firstly, the opening week at Roland Garros - and especially the first day - is almost invariably marked by cold and wet weather. Secondly, where Nick Kyrgios treads, controversy is usually not far behind.

Both theories were borne out as the French Open got under way. Given the early-morning downpours and an ominous weather forecast, it was surprising that nearly four hours of play was possible before players and spectators were sent scurrying for cover.

The rain, however, could not dampen the fire inside Kyrgios, who launched his campaign with a 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 victory over Italian Marco Cecchinato, who was playing his first match in a Grand Slam tournament.

The 21-year-old Australian, who generally struck the ball well without finding his best form, had some heated exchanges with umpire Carlos Ramos.

Kyrgios' blood rose when he was given a code violation in the tie-break at the end of the first set after shouting at a ball-boy as he asked for his towel. Kyrgios told the umpire that he had raised his voice because of the noise inside Court One, which is also known as "the bull ring".

The Australian asked Ramos what rules he had been breaking and complained of "unbelievable bias".

Kyrgios compared what he had done with an incident at the Rome Masters earlier this month, when Novak Djokovic pushed away the arm of Carlos Bernardes after the umpire had come on the court to inspect a ball mark.

Touching match officials is usually regarded as a serious offence in tennis.

"How can you sit there and give me a code for that?" Kyrgios asked Ramos. "But when Djokovic pushes an umpire out of the way that's all right? Tell the whole world that's all right."

At his post-match press conference the code violation still appeared to rankle with Kyrgios. "Every time I get a towel from a ball kid I say thank you," he said.

"Sometimes when you're a bit frustrated you don't obviously scream at them, but you do get a little mad at them.

"For me that time I didn't get mad at all. I just said it a little bit loud. The crowd was going on. And if we're going to play by the rules, you have 20 seconds in between points, so I'm not going to wait for the crowd to quieten down to get my towel. I just felt like it was a bit rough."

Kyrgios was asked about the Djokovic incident in Rome.

"I think we all know in this room if that was me that did that, it would be an absolute circus," he said. He said the fact that nothing had happened to Djokovic "speaks for itself".

Kyrgios said he was pleased with how he had kept his focus after the incident with Ramos. "I thought I dealt with it okay," he said.

"It didn't put me off too much. Of course it's frustrating, but I think with someone like me that's pretty emotional it can frustrate me a little bit, but I felt like I dealt with it pretty well.

"I thought my focus in that first set was obviously very crucial to win in a best-of-five match."

Nevertheless the Australian seems to have been making efforts this year to clean up his act after the controversial incidents in which he was involved last year, most notably his sledging of Stan Wawrinka.

Belfast Telegraph

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