Banned Nick Kyrgios could quit without proper support, says former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash
The 21-year-old Australian is banned for eight weeks following his actions at the Shanghai Masters, but could see the suspension reduced if he seeks help
Australia’s tempestuous talent Nick Kyrgios has the potential to be a future grand slam champion but could just as easily be lost to the sport if he fails to get the support he needs, according to former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash.
The 21-year-old was suspended for eight weeks by the ATP on Monday following his second round exit at the Shanghai Masters where he clashed with fans, the chair umpire and walked off the court midway through a point against Mischa Zverev.
The ban can be reduced to three weeks if he sees a sports psychologist, which Kyrgios had committed to, according to Australia’s tennis association.
“I wouldn’t be surprised [if he quit], but hopefully that’s not the case,” Cash told radio station 3AW. “Anybody’s got the opportunity to walk away, but if it’s not good for his health then I think he should do that.
“But with some good things in place for his health and well being, and a revised schedule ... he can go out there and enjoy his tennis, which is what we want to see.”
Kyrgios posted a lengthy apology online after his Shanghai meltdown, which came only days after he won the Japan Open, the third and biggest title of his career.
Australia’s Nick Kyrgios to seek psychologist help after ATP ban threat following Shanghai Masters outburst
The 51-year-old Cash, a notable hothead during the early part of his career, said Kyrgios was “flat and exhausted” when he arrived in Shanghai and should never have played the tournament.
He questioned the advice the Canberra native was receiving on tour and claimed Tennis Australia had failed to provide young players with the mental support to deal with the grind of the professional circuit.
“Mental health and understanding of where you are as a junior should be as mandatory as hitting forehands and doing stretching before and after a practice session,” he said.
“I’ve talked to Tennis Australia about it and nothing has been done.”
Tennis Australia, though, dismissed Cash’s criticism as “incorrect,” saying sports psychologists were available for players in every state.
“Sometimes they have access to two or three of them,” Tennis Australia spokesman and 22-time doubles grand slam champion Todd Woodbridge said.
“Tennis Australia’s support is as strong, if not stronger than for any other [sport’s] in the country.”
Cash said Kyrgios was “the next guy” in line for grand slam glory once proven winners like Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic bowed out.
“And who is standing up there? Well, Nick’s the obvious one.
“You tend to see after a great year, a bit of a lull, and (then) he’s got a great opportunity to grab a couple of grand slam titles and really be a success.”