The public’s opinion of Nick Kyrgios has never been poorer.
Kyrgios’ indiscretions have been constant in 2015, ranging from racquet abuse and swearing fines to, more seriously, allegations of tanking and ‘those’ comments to Stanislas Wawrinka.
There is no question that Kyrgios crossed the line with when he told the world number five that fellow player Thanasi Kokkinakis “banged your girlfriend, sorry to tell you”.
He was referring to Wawrinka’s girlfriend, 19-year-old Croatian tennis player Donna Vekic.
And it was at that moment that he lost the support of his fellow players, some of whom are giving him the could shoulder in the dressing room.
Some of the colleagues criticising him had publicly supported him in the past.
First, there was a $US10,000 fine. And then came an additional fine of $US25,000 and a 28-day ban, both suspended for six months and only to be enforced if he transgresses again.
What that all means is Kyrgios is walking the tight rope at the US Open – the final grand slam of the tennis year that begins in New York on Monday.
He can’t swear, smash racquets or get involved in petty disputes with officials.
That all seems fairly straight-forward but to Kyrgios, who seemingly cannot go a match without some form of incident, it won’t be easy.
Now all he can focus on is his tennis.
His first task is about as difficult as it gets, with world number three Andy Murray waiting for him in the first round of the US Open.
It’s a match sure to get the centre-court treatment, but the spotlight won’t be on Murray.
For many reasons, it’s the most important match of Kyrgios’ career so far.
He desperately needs to get back the public back on side and – even if he doesn’t win – a good showing might start that long road.
A strong performance might also give Kyrgios the confidence he clearly needs.
Kyrgios strikes you as a player who needs to be loved despite doing everything in his power to make that tough.
There’s no question he will have doubted himself and his ability in recent weeks.
Then there’s also the vital manner of winning some respect back from his fellow professionals, who have been quick to distance themselves from him.
It will only be a start, but a respectful and polite display against Murray can help.
3) A forum to apologise … properly
And crucially, he can use the big stage to publicly, and properly, apologise to Donna Vekic.
The 19-year-old Croatian remains the victim in this whole scenario and is still clearly upset.
She recently told the New York Post: “He didn’t get suspended. It’s ridiculous. No more comment on this.”
4) To change his fate
Clearly, Kyrgios has much work to do.
He is good enough to beat Murray.
It won’t be easy, with the Scotsman’s superb defensive play likely to curb his opponent’s attacking strengths.
But with a towering serve, powerful groundstrokes and excellent coverage, Kyrgios has the tools.
This is a man who beat Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last year and who was too good for Roger Federer in May.
He is still young enough to turn this whole sorry situation around.
But it has to start soon.