Nick Kyrgios is rarely out of the headlines on the ATP Tour and his bad boy status caught up with him again last week at Shanghai. He has been banned for 8 tournament weeks and fined $25,000 by the ATP Tour for a “lack of effort” and “unsportsman like conduct” during his second round game against qualifier Mischa Zverev.
Kyrgios showed a complete lack of respect for his opponent and the fans, patting his serves in and walking back to his chair while Zverev was serving on occasion and at one point was seen arguing with a fan. There were also numerous outbursts of profanity during the match, for which he received additional fines.
The ATP Tour has insisted that Kyrgios sees a sports psychologist in relation to his ban and, if he does engage with one, his ban will be reduced to 3 weeks, which would allow him to return to the ATP Tour in time for the start of the new season. Kyrgios has since apologised for his actions citing fatigue and injury problems as one of the reasons for his antics. However, it’s safe to say that his problems are clearly psychological and relating to his temperament, which need to be addressed if he is going to become one of the game’s elite players.
On to this week’s ATP action and the tournaments at Stockholm, Moscow and Antwerp are now underway and we have already witnessed a handful of upsets. At Stockholm fifth seed Steve Johnson crashed out in straight sets against Moldovan Radu Albot and eighth seed Marcos Baghdatis lost from a set up against former top-20 player Kevin Anderson.
At Moscow the biggest upset so far was Russian qualifier Daniil Medvedev knocking out the experienced Mikhail Kukushkin in straight sets. At Antwerp sixth seed Joao Souza crashed out against qualifier Marcus Copil from Romania and experienced veteran Garcia-Lopez also went out in straight sets against little known qualifier Jozef Kovalic from Slovakia. Also, eighth seed Frederico Delbonis found veteran Andreas Seppi too good, losing a tight three setter.
The majority of top seeded players get their campaigns underway today with the likes of Goffin (seeded 1), Ferrer (2), Gasquet (3), Cuevas (4) and Simon (5) featuring at Antwerp. Top seed Goffin is understandably the favourite to win on home soil this week but he’s had a busy schedule of late and is worth opposing not only due to potential fatigue but also because the top two seeds generally have poor records at ATP 250 tournaments overall.
Seventh seed Nicholas Mahut (20/1), who is in the top half of the draw and is drawn to meet Goffin at the semi-finals stage, is a proven player both on fast surfaces and indoors. He is well rested having chosen not to play in the far east and his section of the draw looks more than winnable with fourth seed Cuevas being the highest ranked player. If he does meet Goffin at the semi-final stage he could have the advantage on this occasion, as there last encounter at Metz indoors recently was very close (6-3 6-7 6-4) and as mentioned above Goffin has played a lot more tennis recently and is bound to be more fatigued than Mahut who has not played since Metz.
At Moscow second seed Ramos-Vinolas, third seed Kohlschreiber, fourth seed Troicki (advised 7/1), sixth seed Carreno-Busta and eighth seed Kuznetsov (advised 8/1) all get their campaigns underway today, as does Kachanov (advised 14/1). From a match betting perspective Kohlschreiber is worth opposing against Lajovic as the veteran Germans form has been poor since returning from injury and Lajovic is usually very consistent and has the luxury of a competitive under his belt, which should provide him with an advantage.
At Stockholm top-seed Monfils (advised 5/1), third seed Karlovic, fourth seed Zverev and sixth seed Sock all get their campaigns underway today, as does seventh seed Isner who faces Del Potro (advised 4/1). Sixth seed Sock is worth opposing if he faces Gilles Muller as the young American played singles and doubles in Shanghai last week and the doubles final on Sunday so will have had little time to recover mentally and physically for today’s match.