Nick Kyrgios ‘truly sorry’ after eight-week suspension with ‘plan of care’ lifeline

Nick Kyrgios has been banned for eight weeks and fined $25,000 (£20,560) by the ATP for his behaviour

Marianne Bevis
By Marianne Bevis

Nick Kyrgios, who reached a career-high ranking of No14 after winning his third title of the year in Tokyo a week ago, has been suspended from competition for eight weeks, following an investigation into his behaviour during the Shanghai Rolex Masters last Wednesday.

The ATP announced that Kyrgios has been found to have committed the major offence “Conduct Contrary to the Integrity of the Game.”

The offence means he will receive an additional fine of $25,000. At the time, following his match against Mischa Zverev, Kyrgios was fined a total of $16,500, comprising $10,000 for violations of the “Best Efforts” provision, as well as a $5,000 fine for “Verbal Abuse of a Spectator” and a $1,500 fine for “Unsportsmanlike Conduct”.

During the match, Kyrgios tapped his own serve, and failed to attempt to return his opponent’s serve, and engaged in argument with a member of the crowd as well as the umpire. He went on to make derisive comments during this press conference.

Asked if he understood why some fans had booed him, he commented: “Not at all. I feel like if they knew what they were talking about they’d be on the tennis court and being successful… I don’t owe them anything… If you don’t like it, I didn’t ask you to come watch. Just leave. If you’re so good at giving advice and so good at tennis, why aren’t you as good as me?”

Asked if he wanted to qualify for the World Tour Finals [and he stands within striking distance at No12 in the Race], he added:
“I couldn’t care less, to be completely honest with you.”

The full ban will suspend the Australian from competition until the start of the Australian Open in mid January, but he has been thrown a lifeline that would reduce his period of suspension to three weeks if he agrees to “enter a plan of care under the direction of a sports psychologist, or an equivalent plan approved by ATP.”

Should he do so, he will be free to compete from Monday 7 November, but that will still be too late to take up his scheduled involvement at the Swiss Indoors in Basel next week or in the final Masters of the year in Paris, and so extinguishes any chance of qualifying for London.

Kyrgios apologised on Twitter soon after the offending match, saying: “Not good enough today on many levels, I’m better than that. I can go on about excuses but there are none. Sorry #StillAWorkInProgress”

After a stream of critical Tweets from many observers, he found support—as he has done following previous misdemeanours—in the comments of Andy Murray. The world No2 told the Mail Online: “I think sometimes players do need protecting as well. Sometimes he goes into press and says things he regrets. In those situations he maybe needs to be guided a little bit better and I’m sure he will learn from that.

“I chat to him about all sorts of things, tennis, sport, basketball. If he ever wanted to talk to me or ask me anything, I would obviously be open to that. You don’t want to see young guys who are in the spotlight, struggling and making mistakes, doing things that ultimately hurt them… It’s not easy being in the spotlight at such a young age and not everybody deals with it as well as [others].

“When I was very young, I struggled with it massively… Sometimes the mental health of players is not really discussed because we’re supposed to be mentally strong. If you are seen to be talking about feelings or not believing in yourself or struggling to cope with pressure, that’s seen as a negative… So from a young age you don’t open up and it’s something that as you get older it becomes a lot easier to do it, but it should be encouraged from a young age.”

Following today’s announcement from the ATP, Kyrgios took to his website to reply.

“I would like to take this opportunity to apologise again for the circumstances in Shanghai. 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 apologise to the fans, as well as the tournament organisers in Shanghai. 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 on the tennis circuit. 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.”

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