Tennis: Kyrgios pulls out of Rotterdam Open to play basketball

Kyrgios (above) will play in basketball’s NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.
Kyrgios (above) will play in basketball’s NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.PHOTO: EPA

AMSTERDAM (REUTERS) - Australian Nick Kyrgios has pulled out of the Rotterdam Open in February to play in basketball's NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, tournament director Richard Krajicek was quoted as saying on Wednesday (Oct 19).

Kyrgios was handed an eight-week ban on Monday for his antics at the Shanghai Masters last week when he clashed with fans and the chair umpire, and walked off court in the middle of a point.

The 21-year-old had committed to play in Rotterdam, but Krajicek said he had been released from his contract so he can take part in the basketball game in New Orleans.

"We wanted to hold him to his contract," Krajicek told broadcaster Nederlandse Omroep Stichting.

"You see what can happens when he is tired and (tennis) has little meaning, as in China. We do not want that. So we decided to terminate his contract. We want a top tennis player seen on the court. Kyrgios prefers his passion beyond his profession.

"If every week he is focused on tennis, he might be mentally burned out after six months. He needs an outlet."

Kyrgios has garnered a reputation for being a hothead with a questionable temperament and his Shanghai meltdown was the latest in a string of incidents that have marred his career.

He was accused of "tanking" during some points in a defeat by Frenchman Richard Gasquet at Wimbledon in 2015 and was fined and given a suspended ban weeks later for making lewd remarks about Stan Wawrinka's girlfriend during a match against him in Montreal.

He posted a lengthy apology online after his behaviour in Shanghai, which came days after he won the Japan Open, the third and biggest title of his career.

Kyrgios' ban can be reduced to three weeks if he sees a sports psychologist, which he had committed to, according to Australia's tennis association.