Kyrgios’ suspended ban only adds to his box-office status
Nick Kyrgios’ suspended ban has made the prospect of watching tennis’ most captivating player even more intriguing, writes Michael Hincks.
First of all. The context. Kyrgios was hit with a 16-week suspended ban and fined a further $25,000 for "aggravated behaviour" following an investigation by the ATP.
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The 24-year-old was initially handed a $113,000 fine after calling umpire Fergus Murphy “a f***ing tool” at the Cincinnati Masters.
The Australian then further incensed the ATP when calling the organisation “pretty corrupt”, although he later admitted “it was not the correct choice of words”.
Nevertheless, Kyrgios must remain on his best behaviour during a six-month probationary period. Any code violation that results in a fine could see the four-month ban applied.
He will also have to undergo “continued support from a mental coach while competing at ATP Tour events”.
Kyrgios does have five working days to appeal this ruling, but he appears to have accepted the ATP’s decision when writing on Instagram:
" Guess I’m on my best behaviour for 6 months #detention"
All this simply adds another layer of intrigue to arguably the most fascinating player to watch on tour.
Some will be watching on in the hope that the ATP’s decision forces Kyrgios to brush up his act and focus on his baseline exchanges rather than umpire exchanges.
But it is fair to say the majority will be watching to analyse each and every shout, each and every glance towards a line judge or umpire, to see whether he can indeed toe the line while the ATP casts a closer watch on his behaviour.
And there will be plenty of eyes watching. He is, after all, box-office entertainment. He knows it himself, highlighting the fact that he has avoided a ban to date because “everywhere I play the stadiums are sold out, and the event makes money with me around”.
But those preying eyes will have to wait as Kyrgios recovers from a shoulder injury sustained during the Laver Cup.
Missing the remainder of the Asian swing and returning to Australia will allow him to recover and see out potentially the first three months of this suspended ban without having to play an ATP match.
It means, injury-permitting, the build-up towards the Australian Open in January will be when Kyrgios is back in the spotlight.
Whether the ATP’s decision influences Kyrgios remains to be seen.
An eight-week ban for "lack of best efforts" back in 2016 had little impact, but with a Grand Slam falling in this probationary period, his mentality will truly be put to the test.
There will be some hoping he sinks, others hoping it helps him realise his potential, but the nature of his character and his game means it is impossible to predict.
Either way. We’ll all be watching.