Earlier today, it emerged that Australian tennis sensation Nick Kyrgios had been handed a suspension by the ATP to run upto the 15th of January 2017, a ban that the association said could be reduced if the player agreed to see a sports psychologist.
Now, the player has spoken out on the ban in a release on his personal website.
In the statement Kyrgios, who speaks repeatedly of “mental and physical exhaustion," expressed contrition for his behaviour in Shanghai. "It has been a long season,” the ace said, and said he had been “battling several injuries” en route.
Kyrgios also mentions that extensive travel took its toll on him, and “(my) body just gave out … both physically and mentally.”
The player apologised to fans “in Shanghai, and other parts of the world,” and to “tournament organizers in Shanghai who do an amazing job." Kyrgios avered that he enjoyed fan interactions and wwas disappointed to have let them down, adding that he “loved and valued” their support on the Tour.
“Your energy is what motivates me to reach the top of (my) game,” he said, adding that he was “regretful” of the sorry note on which his 2016 season had ended.
Given Kyrgios was looking to play at the ATP Tour Finals and will no longer have that opportunity, he said it was “disappointing” to not be able to fight for what he called an “important goal.”
Accepting in toto the ATP’s ban, Kyrgios said he “respected the decision by the ATP” and would “use that time to improve on and off court.”
Signing off with an apology, Kyrgios implied he had agreed to see a sports psychologist and looked forward to returning in 2017.
Despite some serious criticism, Kyrgios has found support from some surprising quarters. Both Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have described the youngster as “very talented,” with Djokovic saying he did “not want to see the young Australian squandering his talents.”
Murray went one further, offering to mentor the wayward young player who has long had struggles with his on-court attitude and attracted a number of fines over his career. Murray called for “tennis (to) protect Kyrgios,” and disagreed with the fines the young palyer was handed. “(I’m not sure) if the fine is the best way to discipline young players, I don’t know if that stops that from happening again,” he said.
The Scot, who is currently chasing Novak Djokovic’s World No. 1 title and recently won top honours at the Shanghai Masters, said Kyrgios needed to be “guided a little bit better.”
The World No. 2 volunteered to be a sounding board for the young player, saying he “chat(s) to him about all sorts of things, tennis and sport,” and that he (Murray) would “obviously be open to that if he wanted to talk to me or ask me anything.”
Calling Kyrgios “incredibly talented...when he is on his game,” Murray alluded to the fact that Kyrgios had “not dealt with the spotlight as well as some of the others.”
His statements come amid a strong movement to improve mental health facilities across sport.
Tennis Australia have also issued a statement regarding Kyrgios:
“Nick’s health and wellbeing is a priority and the ATP has offered a reduced penalty on the provision that he seeks appropriate professional advice, which he has agreed to do.
“Nick understands the gravity of his actions, has shown remorse and expressed a willingness to improve.
“We believe it’s our responsibility to help Nick, along with all our young athletes, improve both professionally on court as a player, and personally. We have always offered assistance and advice to Nick and his team and will continue to do so.”
The statement issued by the organization is perhaps the clearest indicator that Kyrgios has consented to the ATP’s condition of counseling, and will take it up shortly.