Tensions had been running high throughout a jam-packed Thursday the Foro Italico, with normally even-tempered Dominic Thiem and David Goffin voicing their displeasures about decisions of tournament organizers during and after Wednesday's washout.
"For a Masters 1000 it's a shame", said Goffin when asked about how the event is run in Rome.— Carole Bouchard (@carole_bouchard) May 16, 2019
For Nick Kyrgios, he appeared to be enjoying the chaos, charming the spirited spectators after working his way back into his second-round encounter with Casper Ruud. And then, suddenly, Kyrgios became the epicenter of the pandemonium.
After failing to consolidate his break advantage to start the third set, Kyrgios uttered an expletive to a member of the crowd, yelling at the person to stop impeding his service motion. The chair umpire issued a game penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, and Kyrgios soon unraveled.
The Australian first slammed down his racquet, kicked a water bottle, then grabbed a chair. The basketball fan channeled Hall of Fame coach Bobby Knight, hurling the seat onto the court:
That was the end of Kyrgios' day, as he shook Ruud's and the umpire's hands, packed up his bags and walked off, defaulted from the match with the Norwegian qualifier leading 6-3, 6-7 (5), 2-1. As a result, Kyrgios will forfeit all points and prize money plus his hotel accommodation. Given his track record, he could face further consequences.
In October 2016, Kyrgios was suspended eight weeks and fined $41,500 following an ATP investigation that found he committed the major player offense ‘Conduct Contrary to the Integrity of the Game’–accused of tanking in his Shanghai defeat to Mischa Zverev. During his semifinal loss to Marin Cilic at Queen’s Club in London last year, he was docked €15,000 for what was described as ‘performing an imitation of a lewd act.’ And who could forget, in 2015, when, mid-match against Stan Wawrinka in Montreal, Kyrgios made comments about Wawrinka’s girlfriend Donna Vekic, drawing a $10,000 penalty.
It remains to be seen what the fallout from the Foro will be, but the New York Times' Christopher Clarey reported the immediate sanction:
ATP confirms that Kyrgios was indeed defaulted from match vs Ruud— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) May 16, 2019
20,000 Euro total fine and forfeit of points and prize money from Rome pic.twitter.com/M5s3p40Gk0
Later in the day, Ruud gave his thoughts on the matter:
Casper Ruud, from the land of Thor, thinks ATP should bring down the hammer on Nick Kyrgios:— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 16, 2019
“I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks he should be suspended for at least half a year.”