Nick Kyrgios may be better off triggering a 28-day ban sooner rather than later to avoid compromising his Australian Open prospects.
Kyrgios on Thursday escaped a fine for unsportsmanlike conduct after receiving a code violation during his explosive second-round exit from the Shanghai Masters.
Officials opted against adding to Kyrgios’s troubles after chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani sanctioned the young firebrand on Wednesday for accidentally swatting a ball in frustration towards a linesman during his loss to Kei Nishikori.
The Australian is serving a six-month suspended sentence for sledging French Open champion Stan Wawrinka at the Montreal Masters in August and will be banned from the ATP Tour for four weeks should he accrue fines totalling $US5000 ($A6,840) before February 24.
Kyrgios was fined $US1500 for an audible obscenity during his first-round win in Shanghai over Andreas Haider-Maurer, leaving the 20-year-old treading a fine line in his last two events of the year.
The two-time grand slam quarter-finalist is scheduled to contest the Valencia Open starting on October 26 and the Paris Masters from November 2 and would be banished from the tour for a month should he cop any more fines totalling $US3500.
With any potential suspension beginning at the conclusion of the tournament at which he reached the threshold, triggering a ban in Paris would be particularly damaging as it would sideline Kyrgios for most of the Australian summer.
An ATP spokesman said any suspension would not unfold during the “off-season” in December.
“So it would begin at the beginning of the 2016 season as he wouldn’t be qualified for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals,” the official said.
As such, in the event of any ban, Kyrgios might be able to get a start in Australia’s yet-to-be-named second team at the non-sanctioned Hopman Cup in Perth – if it’s not finalised beforehand – and the Kooyong Classic exhibition event the week before the Australian Open.
But he’d be ineligible to contest any of the official Australian Open lead-up events in Brisbane, Chennai, Doha, Auckland or Sydney.
Kyrgios reached the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park this year despite playing just one ATP match in four months beforehand due to a back injury.
The world No.32 said he wasn’t fazed about the threat of a suspension.
“Not concerned at all,” he said following his loss to Nishikori.
“If it happens, it happens.”
The Australian Open is governed by the International Tennis Federation, meaning he would be free to contest the opening grand slam of 2016 even if suspended by the ATP.
Regardless, at least staying at his current ranking would be a priority for Kyrgios before the season-opening slam.
Players within the top 32 are guaranteed to avoid facing other seeds for at least the first two rounds.