Federer steps up to defend Kyrgios, urges against ban
NICK Kyrgios faces almost certain suspension after an astonishing chair-throwing tantrum led to embarrassing default in Rome - only a day after the Australian firebrand shredded Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Kyrgios's opponent Christian Ruud urged the ATP Tour to punish the world No 36, declaring many players believed the Canberran deserved to be sidelined for a significant period.
Depending on how quickly officials act, Kyrgios's French Open and Wimbledon campaigns could be compromised by the distraction of suspension.
While ATP sanctions do not extend to grand slam tournaments, Kyrgios might not be able to play key lead-up events to Wimbledon such as Queen's Club or Eastbourne if banned.
Longer term, the Australian Olympic Committee might also move to rule a line through Kyrgios's hopes of competing in the Tokyo 2020 Games - a repeat of the stance that blocked his 2016 Rio aspirations.
The ATP is certain to strongly back the actions of veteran supervisor Gerry Armstrong, the same official who bounced John McEnroe out of the 1990 Australian Open.
In a scenario only Kyrgios could engineer, he completely lost his composure against Ruud, smashing a racquet, kicking over a water bottle and finally hurling the chair - 24 hours after belittling the sport's elite.
The volatile right-hander was already on the brink of default before Armstrong intervened.
He had already received a warning for ball abuse, was then docked a point for unsportsmanlike conduct and lost a game for more unsportsmanlike conduct.
Ruud had no sympathy for the Australian, who was previously hit with a suspension for not trying in a match in Shanghai in 2016.
"He was getting angry that some guy was walking in between his first and second serve," Ruud said.
"Then he was getting more and more angry ... he does whatever he feels like doing. I think he got what he deserved."
The Norwegian claimed several players believed Kyrgios should be suspended.
"It doesn't seem like anything makes him change these days," Ruud said.
"The ATP should do something. ... I'm not the only one who thinks he should be suspended for at least half a year."
One man speaking in defence of Kyrgios is Roger Federer, who says a ban is too much.
"I don't think he should be suspended," Federer said.
"He walked off the court. What did he do? He hurt a chair? That's not enough for me.
"I don't know if he's on probation or not from his Shanghai thing. If that's the case, then obviously you can maybe look into it. If that's run its course, I don't think he should be suspended.
"A zero pointer, fine, all this stuff is already tough enough," Federer added. "He knows it's a mistake what happened."
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic, the president of the ATP player council, said he had "no opinion" on whether Kyrgios should be suspended.
"I'll let others, officials, decide that," Djokovic said.
The ATP immediately stripped Kyrgios of $54,531 in prize money and 45 rankings points - points crucial to his hopes of a Roland Garros seeding next week.
Kyrgios was also fined $32,434 for the three unsportsmanlike breaches during the third-round clash and ordered to cover the cost of his accommodation.
Tournaments generally cover the cost of accommodation and associated hospitality.
"Very eventful day to say the least," Kyrgios wrote on Instagram.
"Emotions got the better of me and I just wanted to say that the atmosphere was crazy out there today, just super unfortunate that it had to end in a default. Sorry Roma, see you again, maybe."
If suspended, it will be the third time in four years Kyrgios has fallen foul of the ATP's disciplinary guidelines.
Leading coach Brad Gilbert called for Kyrgios to be stood down, pointing to the ineffectual impact of previous penalties.
In 2015, Kyrgios was handed a suspended 28-day ban for making crude remarks to Stan Wawrinka in Montreal, referencing Thanasi Kokkinakis and Wawrinka's girlfriend Donna Vekic.
Kyrgios created a firestorm on Wednesday when he slammed Djokovic as "cringe-worthy" and described Rafael Nadal as "super salty."
He also panned Fernando Verdasco as arrogant.