Tennis star Kyrgios admits assaulting girlfriend, avoids conviction

Tennis star Kyrgios admits assaulting girlfriend, avoids conviction

Nick Kyrgios arrives on crutches to the magistrate's court in Canberra, Australia. (Photo: AFP)
Nick Kyrgios arrives on crutches to the magistrate's court in Canberra, Australia. (Photo: AFP)

CANBERRA: Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios on Friday pleaded guilty to assaulting a former girlfriend, but avoided a conviction for what the magistrate called a "single act of stupidity".

Appearing in a Canberra court, the Wimbledon finalist admitted assaulting then-girlfriend Chiara Passari on January 10, 2021, by pushing her to the ground after a heated argument.

Kyrgios said he was "not in a good place" at the time, and that he "reacted to a difficult situation in a way I deeply regret".

"I know it wasn't OK and I'm sincerely sorry for the hurt I caused," he said in a statement.

Passari lodged a complaint with police 10 months after the incident, after the pair had broken up, lawyers told the court.

In a statement read to the court, Passari said she had been severely traumatised by the incident, experiencing severe weight loss, staying in bed day and night -- unable to sleep or form new romantic relationships.

Lawyers for Kyrgios appealed to have the charge of one count of common assault dismissed on mental health grounds, arguing it was an isolated incident and out of character.

Psychologist Sam Borenstein told the court Kyrgios suffered from recurring major depression, which included black periods, thoughts of self harm, insomnia, agitation and feelings of guilt.

Borenstein said the tennis star had relied on alcohol and drugs as a means of coping, but was now making progress in dealing with the issues.

Magistrate Beth Campbell heard that appeal but ultimately dismissed the case without conviction.

Campbell said Kyrgios acted poorly but the offence was not planned or premeditated and was a "single act of stupidity" by a young man attempting to remove himself from a tense situation.

The court was told Kyrgios shoved Passari, who was preventing him from leaving her Canberra apartment.

"I do not record a conviction against your name, I do not find any necessity to place you on a good behaviour bond," Campbell said.

- Squandered talents? -

Kyrgios had hobbled into court in Canberra with a pair of crutches and a brace on his knee, after suffering a "gruesome" injury that sidelined him at last month's Australian Open.

He was flanked by his current girlfriend Costeen Hatzi, an interior designer, and his mother Norlaila.

Canberra-born Kyrgios, known for his mercurial talent and on-court outbursts, later said "mental health is tough".

"Life can seem overwhelming. But I've found that getting help and working on myself has helped me to feel better and to be better," his statement read.

The case was adjourned in October, as Kyrgios prepared to play the Japan Open, so experts could produce mental health reports for the court.

"There's only so much I can control and I'm taking all the steps and dealing with that off the court," Kyrgios said from Tokyo at the time.

Currently ranked 20th in the world, Kyrgios featured prominently in the first episode of Netflix's new Break Point tennis documentary.

"I now plan to focus on recovering from injury and moving forward in the best way possible," he said.

The fan favourite won the Australian Open men's doubles crown with close friend Thanasi Kokkinakis last year but was ruled out of this year's tournament before playing a match.

His manager Daniel Horsfall said he had recently undergone surgery to remove a cyst inside his knee.

"The surgery went great, to be honest, we couldn't have asked for a better result," he told radio station SEN.

"He might be recovering faster than what we were expecting, so it's good news."

Kyrgios burst to fame as a 19-year-old in 2014, when he shocked the tennis world by beating Rafael Nadal to reach the quarter-finals of Wimbledon.

Often criticised for squandering his talents, Kyrgios reached the final of last year's Wimbledon, but was comprehensively beaten by Novak Djokovic.

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