Kyrgios banned for eight weeks, $25,000 fine
Can reduce ban to three weeks if sees psychologist
Australian punished for not trying during match
Was given fines and a suspended ban last year
Nick Kyrgios was banned for eight weeks by the ATP World Tour after his latest instance of bad behavior at the Shanghai Masters, where he failed to “give best efforts” and barely tried at times during his match. The men’s tour urged the combustible Australian to consult a sports psychologist.
In a statement on Monday, the ATP said the talented 21-year-old was found to have committed the major offense of “Conduct Contrary to the Integrity of the Game.”
Kyrgios was fined an additional $25,000 to the $16,500 he picked up on site in Shanghai and is suspended for eight tournament weeks, though that can be reduced to three weeks providing he “enters a plan of care under the direction of a sports psychologist, or an equivalent plan approved by the ATP.”
Tennis Australia lent its support to Kyrgios, saying the Australian has agreed to seek “appropriate professional advice,” in which case Kyrgios would be eligible to return on November 7. By that time, though, the regular season will be over and Kyrgios will have missed his chance – slim as it was – to qualify for the year-end ATP World Tour Finals.
In a contrite statement on his website, Kyrgios accepted the ban and said he will be back stronger in 2017.
“Following the ATP’s decision today I would like to take this opportunity to apologize again for the circumstances in Shanghai,” the world No. 14 said.
“The season has been a long one as I battled several injuries and other challenges towards the end of the summer. The Asian circuit was particularly tough after the long week and win in Tokyo and with the travel throughout the continent, my body finally just gave out in Shanghai both physically and mentally.
“This is no excuse, and I know very well that I need to apologize to the fans – in Shanghai and in other parts of the world – as well as the tournament organizers in Shanghai who do an amazing job,” said Kyrgios, who is without a coach.
Tapping ball over the net
The incidents occurred in his encounter with German Mischa Zverev, in which he tapped his serve over the net several times and at one stage even walked to his chair as Zverev’s serve was on its way toward him. He exited in a quick 48 minutes to the player then ranked 110th and shouted at a fan who implored him to “respect the game.”
In his post-match press conference, Kyrgios said he didn’t owe tennis fans who had paid money to watch him “anything.” It all came after Kyrgios won the biggest title of his career in Tokyo days earlier.
He kept his composure throughout in Japan – and even drew plaudits for throwing a water bottle into the stands to help a supporter in distress.
Chris Kermode, the ATP’s executive chairman and president, called Kyrgios’ display “unacceptable” and “disrespectful.” But he hoped Monday’s decision would help Kyrgios in the future.
“Nick’s conduct in Shanghai was unacceptable, disrespectful to the sport and its fans,” he said in a statement released on the ATP’s Twitter feed.
“We take these matters very seriously and he has since apologized for his actions. Nick is a phenomenal talent and our hope is that he uses this time away from the Tour constructively, and with some support, is able to return to competition with an improved mindset and stronger than ever before.”
It is certainly not the first time Kyrgios has been penalized by the ATP for his actions.
In 2015, he was given a 28-day ban and a $25,000 fine, both suspended for six months, after an incident in Montreal when he directed unsavory comments towards his opponent Stan Wawrinka, regarding the Swiss’ girlfriend.
He was fined for swearing at Wimbledon this summer and in 2015, he was accused of not trying during a match against Richard Gasquet. He denied the charge.
Kyrgios’s actions are reminiscent of the 1980s and 1990s when the likes of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors were suspended for bad behavior.
But unlike Kyrgios, McEnroe – famously dubbed “super brat” during his playing days – and Connors could never be accused of not trying. McEnroe, now a prominent TV analyst, criticized Kyrgios after his defeats this year at Wimbledon and the US Open.
“I of course know how important the fans are to the success of our sport and I personally love the interaction with fans in the many different cities throughout the world on the tennis circuit,” Kyrgios continued on his website.
“I am someone who gives a huge amount of time to my fans because I love and value their support. Their energy is what motivates me to reach for the top of the game. I regret that my year is ending this way and that I will not have a chance to continue chasing the ATP Finals.
“This was an important goal for me. I do understand and respect the decision by the ATP and I will use this time off to improve on and off the court. I am truly sorry and look forward to returning in 2017.”