Australian tennis bad boy Nick Kyrgios will accept “professional help”, reducing his ATP ban from eight weeks to three, according to Tennis Australia (TA).
The governing body of the men’s tour slapped Kyrgios with an eight-week suspension for his lack of competition during a match at the Shanghai Masters.
But the suspension could be reduced to three weeks if he “enters a plan of care under the direction of a Sports Psychologist, or an equivalent plan approved by ATP”.
TA said it backed the ban and confirmed Kyrgios would accept the offer of professional help, allowing him to return to competition from November 7.
“Nick’s health and wellbeing is a priority and the ATP has offered a reduced penalty on the provision that he seeks appropriate professional advice, which he has agreed to do,” a TA statement read.
The world No.14 was slapped with a $US25,000 ($A33,000) fine and banned for eight tournament weeks for what the ATP described as “conduct contrary to the integrity of the game”.
The ban comes after his bizarre 6-3 6-1 loss in just 48 minutes to German Mischa Zverev at the Masters 1000 tournament in Shanghai, where he was initially fined $US16,500 ($A22,000) for failing to play competitively, complaining to the crowd and umpires, and his post-match comments.
— Aliny Calejon (@alcalejon) October 12, 2016
Kyrgios is the first player banned for misbehaviour on the ATP Tour since notorious troublemaker John McEnroe was suspended in 1987.
In a statement, 21-year-old Kyrgios again apologised for his actions.
“The Asian circuit was particularly tough after the long week and win in Tokyo, and with the travel throughout the continent, my body finally just gave out in Shanghai both physically and mentally,” he wrote.
“This is no excuse, and I know very well that I need to apologise to the fans – in Shanghai and in other parts of the world.
“I do understand and respect the decision by the ATP and I will use this time off to improve on and off the court. I am truly sorry and look forward to returning in 2017.”
Kyrgios was in contention for one of the remaining ATP Finals spots, but will be ineligible as the ban includes high point-scoring tournaments in Basel and Paris.
Tennis Australia released a statement in which it said Kyrgios has agreed to receive counselling.
“Nick’s health and wellbeing is a priority and the ATP has offered a reduced penalty on the provision that he seeks appropriate professional advice, which he has agreed to do,” it said.
“We believe it’s our responsibility to help Nick, along with all our young athletes … we have always offered assistance and advice to Nick and his team and will continue to do so.”
If Kyrgios does serve his full ban, he will be eligible to play competitive tennis again on January 15, one day before the start of the 2017 Australian Open in Melbourne.
He was also set to join rising star Daria Gavrilova at next year’s Hopman Cup tournament.
ATP President Chris Kermode said he hopes the wunderkind can recover from this latest indiscretion.
“Nick’s conduct in Shanghai was unacceptable, disrespectful to the sport, and its fans,” he said in a statement.
“Nick is a phenomenal talent, and our hope is that he uses this time away from the Tour constructively and, with some support, is able to return to competition with an improved mindset.”
Kyrgios enjoyed a breakout season this year – winning three titles including the Rakuten Open in Tokyo, his most lucrative trophy to date – as well as making the second week at Wimbledon and the semis at the Miami Masters.
Only moments before the ban was revealed, Melbourne City and Socceroos star Tim Cahill made bold claims about Kyrgios’ potential, believing he can make it all the way to the top.
“He will be No.1 whether he likes it or not. He will be one of the best athletes we have,” he told 3AW’s Sports Today program.
Kyrgios has been no stranger to controversy throughout his career.
Last year in Montreal, he made lewd comments to two-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka, which earned him a six-month suspended ban.
His latest ban has drawn mixed reactions from the Australian public.
Hate to be the party pooper but what major tournaments is Kyrgios actually missing out on? He needed a break anyway.
— Brett Thomas (@BrettT_SEN) October 17, 2016
Oh, please. Kyrgios is representing Australia as much as drunk guys on a Bali end-of-season trip, or Fevola at an Irish pub. #tallpoppy
— Steve Nelson (@deeveenelson) October 17, 2016
Really hope the #Kyrgios decision will help him achieve all he's capable of, and also his own hopes for himself.
— Kirsty Smith (@kirstysmith89) October 17, 2016
— Marijo Pozega (@MarijoPozega) October 17, 2016