Andy Murray has defended Nick Kyrgios, saying Kyrgios needs guidance and players’ mental health should be discussed.
Kyrgios was fined US$16,500 and banned from ATP for eight weeks over his conduct at the Shanghai Masters for “lack of best efforts, verbal abuse of a spectator, and unsportsmanlike conduct” in a match against Germany’s Mischa Zverev.
“I think sometimes players do need protecting as well,” Murray told British media. “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.”
Murray said not everyone could cope with the competition in world sport. “I struggled with it massively. We don’t always talk about that, we don’t always discuss it when we’re that age,” the world number two player said.
“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.
“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. 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.”
Novak Djokovic said while Kyrgios “got huge potential”, the 21-year-old “obviously has life lessons to learn.”
“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,” said Djokovic.
“He’s been doing well. He’s around 15 [rank] 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 has apologised on Twitter and his website. “I know very well that I need to apologise to the fans – in Shanghai and in other parts of the world – as well as the tournament organisers in Shanghai who do an amazing job,” stated Kyrgios. “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.”