July 10, 2020


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Suspended suspension for Nick Kyrgios

On the day Nick Kyrgios pulled out of the remainder of the ATP Tour Asian swing because of a collarbone injury, the tour finally handed down its decision concerning the embattled Aussie’s behaviour at the Masters 1000 tournament in Cincinnati last month.

They suspended him – but maybe they didn’t.

What the ATP Tour has done, once again, is hang a suspension sword of Damocles over the 24-year-old Aussie’s head, in the hope that he behaves appropriately over the next six months.

The verdict is that Kyrgios was found to have committed “Aggravated Behavior under the Player Major Offense provision in the ATP Code”.

The investigated was conducted by executive vice-president of rules and competition Gayle Bradshaw.

It is the “pattern of behaviour” clause that has led Bradshaw to assess a fine of $25,000 (peanuts compared to the $113,000 Kyrgios was fined in Cincinnati), a suspension the duration of which is 16 weeks – 16 tournament weeks, not calendar weeks – and a six-month probation period.

That period begins on the Monday following “acceptance” of the punishment, which means, “if Kyrgios chooses not to appeal”. 


Good behaviour will wipe out sanctions

If the 16-week suspension and fine sound serious, they will be reduced to … zero if Kyrgios is a good boy during those six months.

Should Kyrgios earn “no further code violations” during that period, he’s off the hook.

Here’s what he can’t do. As you can see, that first one might be a deal-breaker unless a radical change takes place.

– No Verbal or Physical Abuse of officials, spectators or any other persons while on-court or on-site

–No Unsportsmanlike Conduct based upon an act, such as spitting, directed towards an official, spectator or other person during or upon conclusion of the match.

Another condition is “continued support from a mental coach while competing at ATP Tour events.” That implies something most people probably weren’t aware of, which is that Kyrgios already was getting that support.

Kyrgios also must seek “additional support during the off-season (Nov-Dec) from a professional specializing in behavioral management.”

Kyrgios has five days to launch an appeal. If he does not, that six-month probation kicks in the Monday following. If he commits no further violations, it will be lifted.

Abuse of umpire Murphy in Cincinnati

Kyrgios, who is one of the quickest players between points on Tour, lost his cool with chair umpire Fergus Murphy over the anodyne matter of when the shot clock was started. 

Typically that’s a sign of Kyrgios feeling a physical issue or other. At that point, he has the unfortunate tendency to sabotage himself.

After losing the second set in a tiebreak to Karen Khachanov, and facing a third, he went off for a toilet break. Despite reports that it was against Murphy’s wishes, the truth was that he asked, twice, but Murphy was busy giving a ballkid some instructions and appeared to not hear him in the noisy stadium.

Really, though, it appeared a ruse to go off the court and smash a couple of rackets.

Cameras caught the action behind a door. And viewers on television or a stream saw it, where Murphy did not.

After hurling various insults Murphy’s way – and not for the first time this summer – he refused to shake his hand when Khachanov won the third set. Among other things, Kyrgios called Murphy a “tool”.

The fine assessed was heavy – three times what Kyrgios earned at the tournament.

Comments concerning the ATP dismissed

The ATP also investigated the comments Kyrgios made towards its organization during the US Open after his first-round victory over American Steve Johnson. Kyrgios had been asked in press about a potential suspension in the wake of his actions in Cincinnati.

“The ATP is pretty corrupt anyway. I’m not fussed about it at all. I was fined ($113,000) for what? Why are we talking about something that happened three weeks ago when I just chopped up someone first round of a US Open? Have you ever sworn at someone before? You’re not an elite athlete … I’m just saying people get frustrated. It happens,” he said.

After the ATP announced it would open an investigation concerning those comments, Kyrgios issued a statement on Twitter.

It determined those did not fall under the category of “Player Major Offense”. So he’s off the hook for that.

Not his first late-season suspension

Three years ago, right around this time of the year, Kyrgios was suspended for eight tournament weeks. The suspension was handed down after a 6-3, 6-1 loss to Mischa Zverev in the second round of the Shanghai Masters 1000. The Aussie was judged, among other offenses, not to have given his best effort.

That suspension was cut in half after Kyrgios agreed to work with a sports psychologist. 

The following year – again in Shanghai – Kyrgios retired after losing the first set of his first-round match against Steve Johnson. He had just reached the final in Beijing a few days before.

The Aussie said he had been under the weather. As well, he said his shoulder had been bothering him in practice. He was fined his prize money because he couldn’t provide evidence of illness or injury.

What probably hurt him more was that he was overheard saying that if he lost the first-set tiebreak against Johnson, he could quit. 

Kyrgios went to Antwerp the following week. He lost his first match, and ended his season.

Last year – again in Shanghai, Kyrgios lost to American Bradley Klahn in the first round. And he had issues with chair umpire Damien Dumusois.

Late-season blues for Kyrgios

It’s pretty easy to do the math, and listen to Kyrgios’s comments, and realize that by this point of the season, he’s tired of being on the road and pretty homesick.

He mentioned last week that he’d been away from home for seven straight months.

Kyrgios has scuttled Beijing and Shanghai, citing the collarbone injury that forced him out of the deciding day of Laver Cup.

He did fly to Zhuhai, mostly to fulfil the doubles commitment with his mate Matt Reid. He lost his first-round match in singles to Andreas Seppi in three sets. And the drop of velocity on his service was evident.

It probably was a smart move given his history at the tournament and the fact that he has no room to maneuver on the behavioral side. He announced this on Twitter before the suspension was handed down.

Kyrgios remains entered in the Vienna 500 event the week of Oct. 21, and the Paris Masters 1000 tournament the week after that.