Nick Kyrgios dispatched Steve Johnson in straight sets in the first round of the US Open, but it was his comments after the match that sparked controversy.
The contentious Australian was asked in his press conference Tuesday about the $113,000 fine he received for an on-court outburst at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati earlier this month.
The 24-year-old landed himself in trouble when he smashed two rackets and called umpire Fergus Murphy a “f***ing tool” after receiving a time violation.
“ATP’s pretty corrupt anyway, so I’m not fussed about it at all,” Kyrgios told reporters in New York of his fine.
“Why are we talking about something that happened three weeks ago when I just chopped up someone [in the] first round of the US Open?”
In a statement, the ATP Tour said Wednesday that it would be formally investigating the comments made by Kyrgios. And perhaps mindful that a suspension could follow, Kyrgios in a tweet sought to “clarify” his comment following the statement and complained of double standards.
He also cited ATP boss Chris Kermode.
“I would like to go on record to clarify my comment around the ATP being corrupt,” he said. “It was not the correct choice of words and my point and intention was to address what I see as double standards rather than corruption.
“I know my behavior at times has been controversial and that has landed me in trouble, which at times is granted and valid, but my issue is around others whether gaining the same, less or more media attention doing the same or similar behavior and not being sanctioned.”
Kyrgios again locked horns with the umpire – this time Britain’s James Keothavong – during his 6-3 7-6 6-4 defeat of Johnson when he complained of spectators walking in the stands during his serve.
Johnson asked Kyrgios if he was going to “play f***ing tennis” as the pair changed ends in the second set, while the Australian confronted Keothavong by asking why he wasn’t “looking at people coming in on my first serve.”
At that point, the match was evenly poised with Kyrgios 1-0 up and on serve, before prevailing in a tie break in the second set.
Kyrgios, who has never progressed past the third round at the US Open, next faces Frenchman Antoine Hoang.
“Steve is a hell of a player. He played well. I knew I had to serve well,” the world No. 30 said in his on-court interview following the victory.
“I’m just happy I got it done in two hours. Now maybe I can get to a pub and get some good food.”