TENNIS: Australian tennis great and former Tennis Australia talent development chief Todd Woodbridge has claimed Nick Kyrgios hates it when he loses control of his emotions as he did at the Shanghai Masters.
Kyrgios was on Monday whacked with an eight-week suspension that can be reduced down to three if he meets strict conditions after an ATP Tour investigation found him guilty of conduct contrary to the integrity of the game for failing to provide his best effort in his loss to German Mischa Zverev.
It was the tour's first suspension for behavioural issues since American John McEnroe was ousted in 1987.
Woodbridge said he believed Kyrgios still had the ability to turn his career around and become a popular player in the same way Andre Agassi did.
The 16-time doubles grand slam champion defended his role in the development of Kyrgios, saying Tennis Australia provided support with coaching and access to sports psychology.
"Right now I can promise you, he does not like behaving the way he does,” Woodbridge told SEN radio.
"He actually hates it. Part of his behaviour is because of that. He doesn't at this point control that well enough.
"I think that's where seeking this help properly - and I think that he has to buy into it properly - it will improve him both on and off the court so that he'll enjoy his opportunities better and he'll understand why he's feeling that way.”
One-time Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, however, said he was adamant the ATP should have acted sooner when punishing the 21-year-old, who has had a string of controversial on-court incidents.
Writing in a column for Fox Sports, Cash said the suspension and additional $32,900 fine wasn't "particularly harsh” and was "overdue”.
"Nick has been putting the ATP in an awkward position for years by generating at least as many headlines for his on-court meltdowns as his incredible tennis,” Cash wrote.
"Ultimately, one may wonder if the ATP has done him a disservice by not acting sooner.
"He probably isn't all that disappointed, either. It would be a relief in a way and a good time for him to rest and reflect.”
ATP president Chris Kermode defended the length of the ban, declaring the sport wants to see Kyrgios return stronger than before.
"Nick's conduct in Shanghai was unacceptable, disrespectful to the sport and its fans,” he said.
"We take these matters very seriously and he has since apologised for his actions.
"Nick is a phenomenal talent and our hope is that he uses his time away from the tour constructively and - with some support - is able to return to competition with an improved mindset and stronger than ever before.”
While he won't play again in 2016, Tennis Australia declared Kyrgios had agreed to consult with a sports psychologist in order to reduce his suspension down to three weeks, and would be available for the summer of tennis at home.
As a non-ranking points tournament, Kyrgios is expected to make his return to tennis at the Hopman Cup, beginning January 1.
"Nick's health and well-being 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,” Tennis Australia said in a statement.
"Nick understands the gravity of his actions, has shown remorse and expressed a willingness to improve.
"We believe it's our responsibility to help Nick, along with all our young athletes, improve both professionally on court as a player, and personally. We have always offered assistance and advice to Nick and his team and will continue to do so.”
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