On the opening day of U.S. Open swordplay, a swashbuckling young Australian nearly skewered himself with emotional outbursts and a former champion almost had to be carried out on his shield, his body in knots.
But both -- 19-year-old Nick Kyrgios and 2012 tournament winner Andy Murray -- survived to fight another day.
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Kyrgios' problem, during his 7-5, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (1) win over 21st-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny, was being assessed with three code violations, one short of being defaulted.
Murray's trial, before he prevailed over Dutchman Robin Haase, 6-3, 7-6 (6), 1-6, 7-5, was the sudden onset of cramps. In his left hamstring. Then his left forearm. Then his back.
The day and night action was mostly uneventful, with seeded men Novak Djokovic (No. 1), Stan Wawrinka (No. 3), Milos Raonic (No. 5) and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (No. 9) all winning without incident. Unlike the cases of 60th-ranked Kyrgios and Murray, the No. 8 seed from Great Britain.
First Kyrgios (pronounced KEER-ee-ose), who notably threw sand in Rafael Nadal's gears at Wimbledon this summer with a fourth-round upset that caught the tennis world's attention. (Nadal has not played since, skipping the Open with a wrist injury.)
As his two-set lead began to look shaky, Kyrgios acted out his annoyance, once whacking a ball high into the air and almost out of Court 17.
"I guess just the heat of the moment," he said. "I was frustrated the way I was playing . . . just all that sort of stuff." Such outbursts, he said, "sometimes" fuel his performance, "but most of the time, probably not."
The stands were packed with almost 3,000 people, most of them loudly backing the passionate Kyrgios. "I was really, really happy with that," he said. "It was awesome. I'm going to get scorched in Melbourne [for saying it], but this is my favorite Grand Slam. Suits my personality a bit."
Meanwhile Murray, also playing to a large, partisan crowd in Louis Armstrong Stadium, performed and felt perfectly fine until roughly halfway into his 3-hour, 8-minute match.
Then, he said, "it just came on extremely early and strange where, you know, sometimes nerves can bring [cramps] on, but I certainly wasn't nervous at the beginning of the third set, after just winning a tough second set.
"It was unexpected, and therefore quite difficult mentally to deal with," he said. "When it starts to kind of go everywhere, you don't know exactly where it's going to creep up next. When you stretch one muscle, something else then cramps, too."
Murray was convinced that he was fit enough after training in Florida and just as certain that, though it was hot, humidity was not an issue. But the cramping was taking his mind off the chore at hand. He struggled to throw the ball up for serves and cut down on his leg movement.
Amid all that, the 70th-ranked Haase earned three break points on Murray's serve to possibly force a fourth-set tiebreaker and extend the match. That Haase couldn't convert provided Murray his best therapy.