“I guess I’m a pretty boring player. I don’t bring much to the sport.’
The genius, hot-headed, polarising, show-stopping, infuriating, exceptional/wasted talent that is Nick Kyrgios uttered these words after his third-round loss to Andrey Rublev at the US Open.
When the 24-year-old was asked what the ATP Tour should do to him after he said the governing body was ‘pretty corrupt’, he shrugged it off, before giving the aforementioned quote.
Despite walking back his ‘corrupt’ remark, Kyrgios said he wanted to draw attention to apparent ‘double standards’ at play, as well as suggesting other players had not been punished as severely as he had for similar acts.
But here lies the rub. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that Kyrgios is the ATP Tour’s prized asset and a veritable cash cow, is it expedient to ban him?
As he is arguably the most talked-about player behind Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, the answer to that question could very well be, no.
We keep hearing that he is bringing in younger fans in a sport that is, reportedly, in desperate need of it.
In one instance, he is bowing to a raucous crowd after hitting a delicious tweener-lob, the next being booed for smashing a racquet or letting out a stream of invective, such as calling an umpire ‘a f*****g tool’.
However, he should be reprimanded for the transgressions he has made. Kyrgios is not above tennis’ laws.
His point about ‘double standards’ is a difficult one to gauge. Kyrgios acts in a way that many others do not and his indiscretions seem to be happening an awful lot of the time in 2019.
To pick out one notable example, Serena Williams was heard saying she would shove a ball down a line judge’s throat. She was fined $10,500 but did not get a ban. The ATP and WTA dishes out fines but bans are harder to come by.
If you excavate Kyrgios’ past, in regards to misdemeanours, there is an ever-growing list of troublesome incidents.
In his relatively short career, Kyrgios has racked up hundreds of thousands of pounds/dollars in fines and banned for a handful of weeks.
His most noteworthy punishments are varied and, at times, vulgar.
At the 2015 Montreal Masters, in an act of apparent sledging, he told Stan Wawrinka: “(Thanasi) Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend. Sorry to tell you that, mate.” He was fined $13,127 but received no ban.
At the 2016 Shanghai Masters, Kyrgios was fined $25,000 for ‘tanking’ his match against Mischa Zverev.
His ban of eight weeks was reduced to three weeks after he agreed to an ATP plan to consult a sports psychologist.
At the 2019 Rome Masters, he was defaulted from his second-round match versus Casper Ruud for swearing at a line judge, kicking a bottle and throwing a chair onto the court.
He was fined more than $20,000 and had his prize money and points from the event forfeited. No ban.
Most recently at last month’s Cincinnati Masters, Kyrgios was fined $113,000 for swearing at umpire Fergus Murphy and several other incidents of unsportsmanlike conduct. No ban, yet.
The calls to have him banned continued to grow and perhaps it was this final straw that broke the ATP/camel’s back.
After his loss in Cincinnati, the ATP launched an investigation into this. Kyrgios’ comments about the ATP being ‘corrupt’ could not have come at a worse time as the governing body began another investigation, this one into ‘conduct contrary to the integrity of the game’.
So, Kyrgios could very soon be in a lot of hot water.
Fines have done little to dissuade him from his tantrums but perhaps a ban is the right course of action. We don’t hear much about him tanking matches anymore (since the Shanghai incident).
The harshest possible punishment Kyrgios can receive for these actions would be a $100,000 fine and a three-year ban. This does seem unlikely.
Is that too much? I would argue yes.
At times Kyrgios is unfathomable. He has his charitable foundation, he plays tennis with kids before he plays his matches and his trick shots and game can be electrifying.
On other occasions, he can be one of the worst things about the sport.
He also admitted that he has been going through some mental struggles over the years and has seen psychologists for this as well. It is hard to know the full story.
So I ask you, at what point does Kyrgios deserve a ban? I’d argue, yes.
But to stop him complaining about double standards, it seems more clear cut guidelines should be set out and stricter ones should be implemented too.
Either way, I think everyone in tennis hopes that Kyrgios can cut this out of his game and produce more prolonged periods of magic tennis like we saw when he won the title in Washington.
If he does, tennis will continue to pull in the fans across the globe.