Tennis star Kyrgios to fight charge on mental health grounds

CANBERRA, Australia – Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios will seek to have a charge of assault on mental health grounds dismissed, his lawyer told an Australian court on Tuesday.

Attorney Michael Kukulies-Smith appeared on behalf of Kyrgios in a court in Canberra, the tennis star’s hometown, and asked for an adjournment so that forensic mental health reports could be prepared.

Judge Glenn Theakston adjourned the case until February 3, when Kyrgios’ lawyers are expected to request that the charges be dismissed under a section of the local crime statute.

The 27-year-old Australian tennis star will appear in court that day for the first time since he was subpoenaed by police in July.

The law gives judges the power to dismiss an indictment if they are satisfied that an accused person is mentally impaired, and such treatment of an accusation would benefit the community and the accused.

The joint assault charge, which carries a possible maximum sentence of two years in prison, relates to an incident in January 2021 that was reported to local police last December.

The charges reportedly relate to an incident involving his former girlfriend.

Kukulies-Smith told the court that his client’s mental health history since 2015 made the request reasonable, citing a number of public statements by Kyrgios.

In February, Kyrgios spoke about his performance at the 2019 Australian Open, saying what appeared to be a positive time in his life was “one of my darkest times”.

“I was lonely, depressed, negative, abusing alcohol, drugs, pushing away family and friends,” he wrote on Instagram. “I felt like there was no one I could talk to or trust. That was the result of not opening up and refusing to lean on loved ones and just gradually push myself to be positive.”

Kyrgios continued to refer to his mental health issues during his runs to the Wimbledon final and US Open quarterfinals.

After ending Daniil Medvedev’s US Open title defense to reach the quarterfinals last month, Kyrgios expressed pride in breaking out of “some really difficult situations, mentally” and “some really scary places” off the pitch.

Theakston asked if Kyrgios had to appear in court for the February hearing, but Kukulies-Smith said his client wanted to attend.

Kyrgios was scheduled to play Taiwan’s Tseng Chun-hsin later on Tuesday at the Japan Open.

Speaking in Tokyo before his matter returned to court, Kyrgios said it was “not difficult at all” to focus on tennis despite the pending charges.

“There is only so much I can control and I take every step and deal with it off the pitch,” he told reporters. “I can only do what I can and I’m here in Tokyo just trying to play good tennis, continue that momentum and just try to do my job.”

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