The governing body for men's tennis has suspended Australian star Nick Kyrgios for three months, or eight tournament weeks, after he essentially threw his second-round match last week at the Shanghai Masters.
Kyrgios often appeared uninterested during the match against German player Mischa Sverev, lobbing soft, slow serves over the net and wandering away before Sverev could return them. He bickered with the umpire and a fan during the match, and was quickly defeated at 6-3 and 6-1. ESPN has provided video of some of the more dramatic moments:
Tennis' governing body, the ATP, said Kyrgios' display amounted to "conduct contrary to the integrity of the game." It fined him $25,000. That amount is in addition to earlier fines for his performance during that match — for not giving his best effort, verbally abusing a spectator and for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Kyrgios, 21, issued an apology, saying that his "body finally just gave out in Shanghai both physically and mentally" after a difficult schedule of travel and tournament play. He won the title in Tokyo's tournament earlier this month. Kyrgios added: "I do understand and respect the decision by the ATP and I will use this time off to improve on an off the court. I am truly sorry and look forward to returning in 2017."
The suspension will last through Jan. 15, 2017. However, the ATP gave him an option to reduce that suspension to three tournament weeks, should he agree to enter a "plan of care under the direction of a sports psychologist."
Kyrgios did not personally indicate whether he intended to shorten his suspension by seeking professional help, but Tennis Australia said in a statement that he has agreed to do so.
However, "there are no regular tournaments on the schedule after Nov. 7," as The Associated Press reports, "so he will have to wait until next year in any case to return to the tour."
At a press conference after last week's match, a bored-looking Kyrgios openly disparaged his fans: "I don't owe them anything. It's my choice. If you don't like it, I didn't ask you to come watch. Just leave. If you're so good at giving advice and so good at tennis, why aren't you as good as me?"
He struck a different tone in his statement today: "I of course know how important the fans are to the success of our sport and I personally love the interaction with fans in the many different cities throughout the world on the tennis circuit."
Kyrgios has been the subject of numerous controversies. As The Two-Way reported, the ATP fined him $10,000 for making a lewd on-court remark to an opponent in Aug. 2015. A month before that, he was fined nearly $9,500 for swearing on the court.