Nick Kyrgios bullied his way into the US Open second round in a post-midnight finish on Wednesday morning, then lobbed another inflammatory accusation at the ATP.
The unpredictable bad boy of the courts crushed mustachioed American Steve Johnson in a first-rounder which began at 11 pm with a 6-3, 7-6(1), 6-4 scoreline.
But only a fortnight after copping perhaps the largest fine in tennis history for a mid-match outburst in Cincinnati which cost him $113,000, Kyrgios flirted with a threatened suspension as he labelled the Tour’s sanctioning body as “corrupt.”:
Speaking to a group of around 10 journos after his win in the small hours, the Australian said of a possible further sanction: “The ATP is pretty corrupt anyway. I’m not fussed about it at all.”
Later on Wednesday, Kyrgios walked back his outburst slightly: “I would like to go on record to clarify my comment about the ATP being corrupt,” he said in a Twitter post.
“It was not the correct choice of words, my intention was to address what I see as double standards rather than corruption.
“I know my behaviour at times has been controversial and it has landed me in trouble. My issue is around others doing the same or similar behaviour and not being sanctioned.
“I acknowledge that I deserve fines and sanctions at some times but I expect consistency and fairness with this across the board – and to date this has not happened.
“I want to clarify my comments but I stand by my beliefs and sentiments around double standards.”
The provocative charge might well force the ATP to go ahead and ban the summer Washington champion for weeks or months after it reserved the right to impose further penalties.
“I was fined $113K for what? Why are we talking about something that happened three weeks ago when I just chopped up someone first round of a US Open?” he added.
Due to the longstanding Balkanisation of tennis, ATP rulings have zero effect at the four Grand Slams, – the main reason why Kyrgios is allowed to play at the final major or the season.
The hit to the wallet handed out to Kyrgios from Cincinnati included fines for audible obscenity, ball abuse, verbal abuse to umpire umpire Fergus Murphy, leaving the court (to smash a pair of racquets out of sight of the chair).
It also included four incidents of unsportsmanlike conduct in a loss to Russian Karen Khachanov in the second round this month.
The ATP warned at the time that it was “looking further into what happened during and immediately after the match to see if additional action is warranted under the Player Major Offence section of the code and that could result in an additional fine and/or suspension”.
Kyrgios brushed off his indictment for swearing at Murphy, whom he had called a “f—ing tool.”
After his New York win, he got into a to-and-fro with a journalist: “Have you ever sworn at someone before?..I’m just saying people get frustrated. It happens.”
Kyrgios drew his audible obscenity warning when he was distracted while serving at 4-all in the second by a women late in finding her seat.
After tossing an annoyed comment her way, Kyrgios then got into an argument with the chair, who said he could not have prevented the interruption since he had not seen it coming.
Kyrgios wasn’t buying and eventually got deeper into a spat with the official, who issued the code violation warning. A frustrated Johnson then joined in, chastising Kyrgios and asking if he played to “play f—ing tennis”.
The interlude only strengthened the resolve of the one-off Aussie, who finished off his rout of his Californian opponent in the Armstrong stadium.