In the wake of Alexander Zverev's case, will Nick Kyrgios receive ATP suspension for pleading guilty to assaulting his ex-girlfriend?
Nick Kyrgios appeared in court in Canberra on Friday, facing criminal charges for assault against his ex-girlfriend Chiara Passari back in 2021. Accused of pushing her onto the pavement during a heated argument, the Aussie and his lawyers had unsuccessfully sought to have the case dismissed on mental health grounds last year.
However, Kyrgios shocked the world by pleading guilty on Friday - a course of action not many men, especially not high-profile personalities, opt for. The World No. 20 was not convicted despite the admission of guilt, and his case was eventually dismissed by the judge.
Proclaiming that it was a "single" act of stupidity, the magistrate ruled in Kyrgios' favor and let him walk away a free man. However, calls have now begun ringing on social media from unhappy fans, who are demanding that the 27-year-old at least face some sanctions from the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals).
Journalist Jon Wertheim is among those asking for action to be taken, siding with the idea that suspension is the right way to go. Will a suspension come forth though? It is hard to tell, given that Nick Kyrgios' case is without precedent in a way.
Only a couple of days ago, the ATP concluded its investigation against Alexander Zverev for domestic abuse against his ex-girlfriend, revealing that the 15-month long investigation did not produce any conclusive evidence. Zverev went scot-free as a result, escaping any disciplinary action.
Even during the course of the investigation there had been no suspension levied on the German, who rose to high as World No. 2 during that period.
Unlike Kyrgios, however, Zverev hadn't plead guilty, and he had fought the case in court - both in Germany and Russia. Speaking out after the ATP gave him the clean chit, the World No. 14 claimed that he had also won both the cases.
Even Nikoloz Basilashvili, who was cleared of three counts of domestic violence charges against his ex-wife last year in a Georgia court, had denied all of the allegations and escaped suspension from the ATP.
This brings us back to Nick Kyrgios and whether the ATP can choose to ignore his admission of guilt. While the magistrate might have seen things a certain way, it is not the job of the men's tennis body to consider whether the Aussie's behavior was a one-off incident or not.
Moreover, the ATP also has to decide whether continued silence on the issue will be seen as them condoning such behavior. Back when Zverev and Basilashvili had been accused of domestic violence, three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray openly called out the ATP for its delayed action, even demanding a domestic abuse policy to be in place to take swift action when the need arises.
"Obviously I don’t think they actually came out and said anything for… well I don’t know how long it was.. but it go certainly was not immediate. It was over a week after it came out. I have read some stuff, and obviously tennis doesn’t have a domestic abuse policy so that is obviously something we as a sport should be looking into," Murray said.
No such measures have been taken, and in fact, the problem has only gone from bad to worse. But now the ATP has a chance to set things right, and to show the world that it is indeed a reputable institution that is not afraid to set a precedent.
Time will tell how the powers that be choose to go about it, especially in the case of someone like Nick Kyrgios, who is considered a media darling.
Contrasting responses from Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev after their respective case dismissals
After the completion of the ATP investigation, Alexander Zverev appeared ecstatic, declaring that "justice had prevailed." Zverev reiterated that he had always pushed back against the "baseless allegations" made against him.
"From the beginning, I have maintained my innocence and denied the baseless allegations made against me. I am grateful that this is finally resolved and my priority now is recovering from injury and concentrating on what I love most in this world - tennis," Zverev said. "We followed the long and difficult process and justice has prevailed."
Nick Kyrgios, on the other hand, was more pensive and introspective after escaping conviction. The Aussie claimed that he regretted his behavior and that he was sorry for acting the way he did. He further stated that he was in a bad place "mentally" at the time and that he was still in the process of working on it, hoping to get to a better place soon.
“I was not in a good place when this happened and I reacted to a difficult situation in a way I deeply regret. I know it wasn’t OK and I am sincerely sorry for the hurt I caused," Nick Kyrgios said. "Mental health is tough. Life can seem overwhelming. But I have found that getting help and working on myself has allowed me to feel better."