Andy Murray has called for some perspective in the conversation surrounding Nick Kyrgios after the Australian tennis star’s latest controversy.
Kyrgios blatantly threw away points in his second-round clash with Mischa Zverev at the Shanghai Masters and was roundly criticised for another tanking episode.
The governing body of the men’s tour also slapped him with a hefty fine for a lack of best effort, verbal abuse and unsportsmanlike conduct.
“I don’t know if that stops that happening again. I’m not convinced about that,” world number two Murray told British media of the fine.
“I think sometimes players do need protecting as well.
“Sometimes he goes into press and says things he regrets.
“In those situations he maybe needs to be guided a little bit better and I’m sure he will learn from that.
“You don’t want to see young guys who are in the spotlight, struggling and making mistakes, doing things that ultimately hurt them,” he added.
Kyrgios clearly appreciated the words from his friend, thanking him on Twitter.
As the first British man to win a major since before World War II, Murray knows more than most about the sort of pressure Kyrgios would be feeling from an Australian public desperate to see another grand slam champion.
Murray said “some players love it [and] some players struggle” being in the fish bowl of world sport at a young age.
Murray admits he spoke to English six-time slam semi-finalist Tim Henman a lot about the expectations being heaped on him at the start of his career.
Cheers @andy_murray // someone with a bit of perspective…
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) October 14, 2016
“Sometimes the mental health of players or athletes is not really discussed.
“As an athlete, we’re supposed to be mentally strong and if you are seen to be talking about feelings or anything like that, not believing in yourself or backing yourself or struggling to cope with pressure, that’s seen as a negative.”
Murray said speaking about the struggles on tour becomes easier over time, but players needed to be told it was OK to talk about it from the get-go despite the glamorous world of professional sport.
“I know we’re in a very privileged position and sport is great and we are very lucky to be doing what we are doing, but there is also a lot of pressure and it’s not always that easy to deal with,” he said.
“The more people can speak up about their issues, their problems, the better, but there’s not really ever been a culture of that in sport before.
“It’s always that everything is kept hush hush, you’re not supposed to say anything about it.”
Murray also said Kyrgios was “incredibly talented” and one of the most exciting prospects in the world.
World number one Novak Djokovic agreed, but said the 21-year-old still had “life lessons to learn”.
“Not many great things are spoken about him lately,” he said.
“I’m sorry to hear that because I share the opinion of many players and many people in the tennis world that he’s one of the greatest talents that the game has seen lately and he’s got huge potential, a huge game.
“He’s been doing well. He’s around 15 in the world [he is ranked 14th in the world], so you’ve got to give him credit for that.
“But on the other hand, he obviously has life lessons to learn. He’s still relatively young, so hopefully that’s going to happen.”
Kyrgios, for his part, in between winning the Japan Open and starting his ill-fated Shanghai campaign admitted he “would have dealt with things a little differently in the past” and said he felt he was “learning and maturing”.