AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK — Andy Murray is facing one of tennis’ top young players in the first round of the U.S. Open, a guy who just missed out on a seed.
The third-seeded Murray’s meeting with Nick Kyrgios was going to be intriguing based simply on talent, though that’s not why the 20-year-old has folks talking these days.
The last time Kyrgios played a two-time major champion, he earned himself thousands of dollars in fines and a potential suspension. After he defeated Stan Wawrinka in Montreal on Aug. 12, a courtside microphone picked up Kyrgios saying that fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis had slept with a player who reportedly is now Wawrinka’s girlfriend.
The theater of Kyrgios’ matches is now about what sorts of outbursts might occur, not wins or losses — though he certainly has shown in the past he can create some stunning results on the court.
Kyrgios upset Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last year to reach the quarterfinals, and made it back to the quarters at this year’s Australian Open. He then advanced to the fourth round at Wimbledon.
Murray is unperturbed by all this, partly because Kyrgios’ game has never given him much trouble. Murray won in straight sets in meetings at this year’s Australian and French Opens.
“Everyone here when they were 19, 20 would have done some bad things and made some mistakes, and it’s unfortunate for him it happens in front of millions of millions of people,” Murray said. “And I think it’s wrong, a lot of the things that he’s done, but I also think that he’s still a young guy. People mature and grow up at different rates. … He’ll learn, and I don’t think he’s a bad guy. I don’t think he’s a bad person at all. He’s an unbelievably talented guy with a lot of potential.”
They play again Tuesday to open the night session at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Considering the setting, Murray didn’t expect Kyrgios to be flustered by recent events.
“To be honest, I think he likes playing on big stages,” Murray said. “That’s where he’s played his best tennis throughout his career. … I would expect him to be ready for the match. He gets himself fired up for the big events.”
Wawrinka and Kokkinakis also play Tuesday — all on different courts.
Some other things to watch as the first round wraps up at the U.S. Open on Tuesday:
TOP WOMEN ON ASHE: Second-seeded Simona Halep, No. 4 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 5 Petra Kvitova play at Ashe looking to avoid the string of upsets that befell the top women Monday. No. 7 Ana Ivanovic, No. 8 Karolina Pliskova and No. 10 Carla Suarez Navarro all lost, a day after No. 3 Maria Sharapova withdrew because of a lingering leg injury.
Wozniacki gets good vibes when she returns to the U.S. Open — Halep and Kvitova, not so much. Both of Wozniacki’s major final appearances have come at Flushing Meadows, including last year’s runner-up finish to Serena Williams.
For Kvitova, the two-time Wimbledon champ, the U.S. Open is the only major where she has never reached the semifinals; she hasn’t even been past the fourth round. For Halep, the 2014 French Open runner-up, it’s the only major where she hasn’t made the quarters.
HEWITT’S FAREWELL TOUR: Lleyton Hewitt, the 2001 champion, could be playing his final U.S. Open match Tuesday. The 34-year-old has said he will retire after the Australian Open in January.
Now ranked 166th, Hewitt got in the field with a wild card through the U.S. Tennis Association’s reciprocal agreement with Tennis Australia.
He faces 100th-ranked Aleksandr Nedovyesov of Kazakhstan, who is 2-5 in his career in Grand Slam matches but reached the second round of the U.S. Open last year.
Second-seeded Roger Federer, also 34 and not planning to retire anytime soon, plays his first-round match Tuesday against 34th-ranked Leonardo Mayer.
Federer practiced with Mayer before the tournament and was surprised to find out the Argentine wasn’t seeded and was a potential first-round opponent.