Wednesday 29 March 2017

Watch Nick Kyrgios 'tank' at Shanghai Masters as he asks umpire 'can you wrap this up so I can go home'

Nick Kyrgios at the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament today
Nick Kyrgios at the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament today

Simon Briggs

Nick Kyrgios’s commitment levels have always tended to wax and wane in accordance with some mysterious music of the spheres. But he has never reached quite such a nadir of indifference as he did in Shanghai today, while blatantly throwing a match against Mischa Zverev.

The most damning moment was the one where Kyrgios patted a serve over the net in the manner of a 60-year-old clubbie and then walked to his chair before Zverev had even struck the reply.

But there were plenty more lowlights to choose from, as Kyrgios also threw in daft “tweeners” for effect (ironically, the ATP tour picked one of these as its “Hot Shot of the Day”) and told umpire Ali Nili “Can you call time so I can finish this match and go home?”

This was arguably even worse than Bernard Tomic’s earlier “tank” in Madrid this year, when Tomic held the racket by the wrong end for the final point of the match. Tomic might have signed off in the most brazen fashion, but Kyrgios maintained a similar attitude for the entire match, deliberately broadcasting his contempt for the tournament and its spectators.

When one of those fans objected, Kyrgios bit back at him, saying “'You wanna come here and play? Sit down and shut up and watch.”

He also told the same man that he had “zero career”, even though Kyrgios’s lack of respect for his own profession was all too obvious. Inevitably, there were boos and jeers as he left the court after his 6-3, 6-1 defeat to the world No. 110.

Kyrgios is sure to receive financial penalties for this display, which came only three days after he won the biggest title of his career in Tokyo. Nili gave him a code violation warning for audible obscenity and also told him “Nick, you can't play like that. It's just not professional. This is a professional tournament.”

There might also be a case for a suspension, although the way Kyrgios is acting at the moment, he might be only too happy to take some time away from the circuit. His appetite for the game is inconsistent and there had been signs – at least in hindsight – that some sort of explosion might be coming.

Within minutes of the Tokyo presentation ceremony, Kyrgios had tweeted “Shanghai bound now and back to it all over again. No time to stop and savour anything. #TourGrind #ThatsHowItGoes.”

On arrival in China, he reiterated his oft-stated position that he doesn’t want to stay in professional tennis for long, while also claiming to have been “bored at times” – as well as “very tired” – during his first-round win over Sam Querrey.

On reaching the press-conference room today, Kyrgios showed considerably more fight than he had on the court, especially when asked if he understood the crowd’s reaction. “Not at all,” he ranted, without acknowledging the basic principle that he was being paid to stand on the court, and at least some of that money had ultimately come from the fans.

“I feel like if they knew what they were talking about they'd be on the tennis court and being successful as well. I can't really understand it at all. They don't know what I'm going through.

“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? Why aren't you on the tour? You want to buy a ticket? Come watch me. You know I'm unpredictable. It's your choice. I don't owe you anything. Doesn't affect how I sleep at night.”

Kyrgios seemed to have recovered some of his poise by the time that he posted an apologetic tweet, a couple of hours later.

Did one sense the hand of his commercial advisors and representatives in this climbdown? Perhaps. But it may have come too late in any case, as the ATP risk being accused of toothlessness if they do not take action against him.

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