Kyrgios captures first home title

AFP
Australia's Nick Kyrgios was at his best as he downed American Ryan Harrison to claim the Brisbane International for his fourth title on the ATP tour and his first on home soil.
AFP
Reuters

Nick Kyrgios plays a shot during the Brisbane International final match against Ryan Harrison on Sunday. 

Nick Kyrgios won an ATP title on home soil for the first time with a commanding 6-4, 6-2 victory over Ryan Harrison at the Brisbane International yesterday.

It was a fourth title for the enigmatic 22-year-old Australian, and his first since 2016.

Harrison had five breakpoint chances in the first set but couldn’t convert, and third-seeded Kyrgios bounced back to get the decisive break in the seventh game and took control with a mix of unorthodox shot-making and pure power on his serve.

He closed with his 17th ace.“It’s a good feeling. As the week went on, I started serving better and hitting the ball better,” Kyrgios said.

“There was pressure on me today because I was the favorite and most people expected me to win, so I was proud of the way I handled that expectation and pressure.”

Kyrgios had trouble with his left knee during the tournament, and needed to change the tape on the joint late in the first set of the final. After that, he appeared to move more freely and didn’t expect it to trouble him at the Australian Open beginning January 15.

His best run at an Australian Open was a quarterfinal exit in 2015. Kyrgios is hoping to improve on that after a confidence-boosting performance in Brisbane, where he beat defending champion and No. 3-ranked Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals.

“For me, that’s just confidence not only mentally but physically as well, and battling and fighting hard,” he said. “It’s good to see the work I was doing in the offseason is paying off. But pretty happy with my performance today.”

Kyrgios broke Harrison in the seventh game of the first set to take the opener in 36 minutes, at which point the American left the court to change his clothes.

Kyrgios complained to the umpire about the length of time Harrison was taking. But the delay did nothing to upset Kyrgios’ rhythm and he broke Harrison twice more to win the title in one hour and 13 minutes, fittingly winning the title with an ace.

Kyrgios and Harrison have a history of bad blood, dating back to 2015 when in a match against Stan Wawrinka, Kyrgios told the Swiss star that fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis had slept with his girlfriend.

A week later Harrison and Kokkinakis had to be separated by officials during a fiery match, with Harrison reportedly saying “Wawrinka should’ve decked Kyrgios and I should deck that kid.”

But apart from Kyrgios’ frustration with Harrison leaving the court at the end of the first set, there was no other evidence of tension and the two shook hands warmly at the end of the match.

The men’s doubles title was won by Australian John Peers and Finland’s Henri Kontinen, who defeated Argentine combination Leonardo Mayer and Horacio Zeballos 3-6, 6-3, 10/2. 


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