Apparently unamused by Nick Kyrgios’s tanking antics in a second-round match at the Shanghai Masters, the ATP struck the No. 14 ranked player with a $25,000 fine for “Conduct Contrary to the Integrity of the Game” and an eight-week ban from the tour.
Should Kyrgios agree to treatment by a league-approved sports psychologist, the suspension could be commuted to three weeks. It’s worth noting that the hypothetical eight weeks extend until January 15; the Australian Open, in Kyrgios’s homeland, starts January 16.
The fines pile on top of the $16,500 already levied for violations at the same match: $10,000 for breaking the “Best Efforts” rule (which says, essentially, that you have to try), $5,000 for verbal abuse of a spectator (“You wanna come here and play? Just sit down and shut up and watch,” Kyrgios said) and $1,500 for unsportsmanlike conduct. The 21-year-old has a rich history of acting up and getting punished for it, but these are the most severe repercussions to date. He’s since released a statement apologizing for his behavior and attributing it to mental and physical exhaustion:
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.
If you wanted to see his tennis in microcosm, you could just look at this October, which contains the high and low of his pro career—his first ATP 500 title at the Rakuten Japan Open, followed by this clownish display in Shanghai. It’s his characteristic mix of high athletic ceiling, low self-mastery, all compressed into a two-week span. By now this is a tired refrain, but it’s worth repeating at the most ignominious point of Kyrgios’s young career: If he gets his shit together, he could be one of the best players of his era.