NEW YORK — Nick Kyrgios understands that if he ever hopes to be considered among the best players in the world, he has to overcome one player: Nick Kyrgios.
The big-serving 19-year-old Australian was hit with three code violations for fits of anger in his first-round U.S. Open match Monday — coming just one outburst away from disqualification. He hung on to upset 21st-seeded Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (1).
Kyrgios, whose ranking soared more than 70 spots after he upset Rafael Nadal to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals, said he was frustrated by stretches of poor play against Youzhny when he slammed a ball out of the court to earn his first code violation in the second set.
He got two more when he uttered audible obscenities in the third and fourth sets. Another would have resulted in default. “It was the heat of the moment. I was frustrated at the way I was playing, all that sort of stuff,” the 60th-ranked Kyrgios told reporters later.
His last fit of pique gave Youzhny a 3-1 lead in the fourth set. But Kyrgios said after that he felt energized by the capacity crowd on sunken Court 17 and fed on that to roar back. He slammed 26 aces, seven in the last set, and won nine of the last 10 points to close out the match.
“I’ve been an emotional player my whole career. Hopefully, I’ll be able to manage it better in the future. It’s a work in progress. I’m trying to get better at it every time I step on the court. But it’s something that’s always been there,” said the lanky, 6-foot-4 Kyrgios, who is frequently mentioned as one of biggest potential future stars of the game.
“I’m probably expecting a lot out of myself at these sort of tournaments,” he said. “But I need to understand I’m still young. It’s going to take a long time. It’s a long journey.”
Youzhny, a two-time U.S. Open semifinalist, said he didn’t pay much attention to how close he came to a default victory. “You try to play your game — some presents from him are good,” he said. “But it didn’t help me with the result.”