Controversial Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios has been banned for eight tournament weeks and fined an additional US$25,000 by the ATP following his antics in the Shanghai Masters last week.
The 21-year-old’s suspension was imposed after he was deemed by governing body the ATP to have committed a ‘major offence which was conduct contrary to the integrity of the game’ during a defeat to qualifier Mischa Zverev.
World number 14 Kyrgios was at the centre of another tanking controversy, seemingly throwing in the towel as he bowed out to the German qualifier.
The ATP revealed the Canberra native, who had already been fined US$16,500 for his behaviour, which also saw him exchange words with a spectator, could have his suspension reduced to three tournament weeks if he enters a plan of care under a sports psychologist or an equivalent ATP-approved plan.
If not, he will not be banned until January 15 next year, the day before the Australian Open gets under way in Melbourne.
Kyrgios apologised for his conduct after initially responding to a question about whether he could understand the anger of fans in Shanghai by saying: “I don’t owe them anything. It’s my choice. If you don’t like it, I didn’t ask you to come watch. Just leave.”
The two-time grand-slam quarter-finalist, a winner of three singles titles this year, expressed his remorse again on Monday and said he respects the ATP’s verdict – which came following an investigation.
He said: “Following the ATP’s decision today 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 – in Shanghai and in other parts of the world – as well as the tournament organisers in Shanghai who do an amazing job.
“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.
“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.”
ATP executive chairman and president Chris Kermode said: “Nick’s conduct in Shanghai was unacceptable, disrespectful to the sport, and its fans. We take these matters very seriously, and he has since apologised 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.”
Kyrgios has hit the headlines on a regular basis since his emergence and stated; “I don’t love this sport. But I don’t know what else to do with it”, following a defeat to Andy Murray at Wimbledon in July.
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