Controversial Aussie tennis star Nick Kyrgios has apologised for his bizarre on-court behaviour after appearing to tank in spectacular fashion at the Shanghai Masters.
Just three days after claiming the biggest title of his career in Japan, and raising hopes he had found a new maturity in doing so, Kyrgios was back to his old ways in the shocking exit from Shanghai overnight.
In weird scenes on his way to the 6-3 6-1 loss to 110th-ranked qualifier Mischa Zverev, Kyrgios looked to throw a number points including when he tapped over his serve and allowed the German to hit an easy winner while trailing 3-1 in the first set.
The rock-bottom 48-minute display also saw the 12th seed walk to his chair right after serving to Zverev, hitting no-effort drop shots and serving at half-pace.
Fans weren't happy with the lack of effort shown by the volatile Aussie who was booed throughout. One spectator reportedly even yelled at Kyrgios to "respect the game" to which the brash Canberran retorted, "You want to come here and play?"
The lacklustre outing from the 21-year-old also drew the ire of chair umpire Ali Nilli who admonished the Australian halfway through the opening set.
"Nick ... You can't play like that, OK?," Nilli's quoted as saying.
"That's not professional ... this is a professional tournament, we have to act professional and play with your best effort the whole time."
In his press conference after the match, Kyrgios said fans weren't owed a better performance, but later appeared to backtrack on Twitter, issuing an apology.
Not good enough today on many levels, I'm better than that. I can go on about excuses but there are none. Sorry #StillAWorkInProgress 🙏🏽😢😞— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) 12 October 2016
The meltdown comes in the same week as Kyrgios looked like he may have turned the corner on his brattish antics after winning his first ATP 500 title in Japan, and closing in on a top-10 spot in the process.
However, it's far from the first time the prodiguous talent has mentally unravelled. At Wimbledon this year he told reporters he didn't "love the sport" after he lost to Brit Andy Murray, also calling himself "pathetic" and "soft".
At the 2016 US Open Kyrgios was forced out in the third round due to injury, resulting in a smackdown from American tennis legend John McEnroe.
"Nick Kyrgios, you don't want to be a professional tennis player, do something else," McEnroe said.