But now Australian player Nick Kyrgios has been fined for “sledging” opponent Stanislas Wawrinka when he made an insulting remark to him about his girlfriend during their Rogers Cup game in Montreal this week.
French Open champion Wawrinka branded Kyrgios “unacceptable” and called for action to be taken against him after the Australian appeared to make the comments.
The incident came just a month after Kyrgios faced criticism from some of Australia’s sporting greats for his racket-smashing, profanity-laced run at Wimbledon.
Kyrgios won Wednesday’s contest after Wawrinka retired hurt, but it was an apparent exchange at the end of the first set which become the focal point.
On-court microphones recorded 20-year-old Kyrgios walking to the net and saying: “Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend. Sorry to tell you that mate” – an apparent reference to his Australian Davis Cup team-mate Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Wawrinka is believed to be dating 19-year-old Croatian player Donna Vekic after divorcing his wife Ilham Vuilloud earlier this year. Vekic and Kokkinakis played mixed doubles together last year and have frequent interactions on Twitter.
Governing body the ATP said: “The ATP has announced that Nick Kyrgios has been fined for an insulting remark made to Stanislas Wawrinka during his second round match against Wawrinka at the Rogers Cup in Canada.”
Details of the fine are not being made public until after Kyrgios has been formally notified, although the ATP rule book allows a fine of up to $10,000 (£6,400).
The player yesterday apologised on Facebook, saying his comments were “made in the heat of the moment and were unacceptable on many levels”.
Speaking on court afterwards, Kyrgios, who is due to play in Glasgow next month in Australia’s Davis Cup semi-final against Great Britain, claimed he had been provoked, saying: “He was getting a bit lippy with me. Kind of in the heat of the moment, I don’t know. I just said it.”
Writing on Twitter, Wawrinka, from Switzerland, said: “So disappointing to see a fellow athlete and colleague be so disrespectful in a way I could never even imagine. What was said I wouldn’t say to my worst enemy. To stoop so low is not only unacceptable but also beyond belief.”
He added: “There is no need for this kind of behaviour on or off the court and I hope the governing body of this sport does not stand for this and stands up for the integrity of this sport that we have worked so hard to build.”
Controversy has followed Kyrgios around since his 2014 breakthrough when he knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbledon.
At this year’s Wimbledon Championship, Kyrgios battled with umpires time and again, was accused of tanking and swore so loudly and abused his rackets so violently that he faced an ATP fine. He lost in the fourth round to Richard Gasquet. Australian tennis legend Rod Laver, who completed the Grand Slam twice in the 1960s, said Kyrgios’ behaviour was holding back his development as a player.