ATP under pressure to take a stronger stance against Nick Kyrgios after the controversial Aussie’s ‘pretty corrupt’ outburst in wake of win at US Open… with Rafael Nadal believed to be one player keen to see harsher punishment
- There is mounting pressure on authorities to take action against Nick Kyrgios
- The tennis bad-boy faced a ‘major offence’ investigation by the ATP Tour
- After beating Steve Johnson, Kyrgios said the organisation was ‘pretty corrupt’
- Those comments came in response to his £96,000 fine from Cincinnati Masters
- Kyrgios clarified his comments as he feels ‘double standards’ impact him most
Tennis’s authorities are coming under pressure from inside the locker room to take firmer action against Nick Kyrgios after his latest outbursts marred an otherwise strong opening US Open performance.
Patience among his fellow professionals is at breaking point after more incidents occurred during and after his straight sets win over American Steve Johnson in the opening round.
A ‘Major Offence’ investigation was launched by the ATP Tour after his throwaway comment in the post-match press conference that the organisation was ‘pretty corrupt anyway’ in relation to his recent £96,000 fine for misdemeanours at this month’s event in Cincinnati.
Pressure is mounting inside the locker room on the ATP to take a firmer stance on Nick Kyrgios
Kyrgios issued a clarification on Wednesday night, admitting that it was wrong word to use. He insisted that he was referring, instead, to his belief that he is a victim of double standards when it comes to punishments.
While conceding that his behaviour is controversial, and that he has deserved some of his sanctions over the years, he also said: ‘My issue is around others whether gaining the same, less or more media attention doing the same or similar behaviour and not being sanctioned. That’s my issue and it continues to be.’
The ATP Tour, which does not have any jurisdiction over the Grand Slam events, will now look into his comments under the ‘Major Offence’ rule, and could fine him another £80,000 or suspend him, theoretically, for up to three years.
The Australian’s US Open first round win was marred by comments against the ATP Tour
KYRGIOS STATEMENT IN FULL
‘I would like to go on record to clarify my comment around the ATP being corrupt, it was not the correct choice of words and my point and intention was to address what I see as double standards rather than corruption.
‘I know my behaviour at times has been controversial and that has landed me in trouble, which at times is granted and valid but my issue is around others whether gaining the same, less or more media attention doing the same or similar behaviour and being sanctioned.
‘That’s my issue and it continues to be. To be clear I know I’m not perfect and do not pretend to be and I acknowledge I’ve deserved fines and sanctioning at times but I expect consistency and fairness with this across the board, to date that’s not happened.
‘I’ve had huge support from Chris Kermode and have given it in return, so I want to clarify my comments but stand by my beliefs and sentiment around double standards.’
Of course as an unquestioned drawcard for crowds and television they do not wish to do that. The exercise of October 2016, when he was suspended for the remainder of the season after blatantly tanking a match in China, was a fruitless one.
Beyond the semi-admission of guilt, sprinkled with a seasoning of victimhood and self-pity, the people Kyrgios increasingly needs to appease are his fellow players.
During a rant at British umpire James Keothavong, one of the calmest customers in the chair, it was noteworthy that Johnson could be heard to protest ‘do you want to play f***ing tennis or have a s***show?’.
According to ATP insiders the American’s sentiments are widely shared in the locker room, with Rafael Nadal said to be among those who think the whole Kyrgios saga has been allowed to go too far, and that firmer action is needed.
The fact is that nobody behaves on a consistent basis like the hugely gifted Australian, who struggles to maintain any self-control when the pressure is on, as it was towards the end of the second set when the latest incidents happened.
Kyrgios had a rant to umpire James Keothavong – to the annoyance of opponent Steve Johnson
A practical measure to improve the situation may be to put more female umpires on his matches, as he might find them harder to confront so forcefully.
Kyrgios was actually on good behaviour for most of his match, and it should be said that there is some truth in his assertion that the rules are not always universally applied. (This has improved in terms of time violations since the introduction of a shot clock.)
Any forthcoming suspension will not impact his participation at this tournament, as the sport’s fractured governance means that ATP sanctions are not applicable at the US Open.
The shame, as ever, is that his behaviour is yet again overshadowing his unique talent. Indeed, if Kyrgios could keep his head connected to his shoulders his part of the draw has opened up in a way that suggests he could reach deep into the second week.
Rafael Nadal is believed to be one star keen to see the ATP take a stronger stance with Kyrgios