Nick Kyrgios claimed his maiden ATP title on home soil and his first since 2016, combining casual flair with enormous power to beat Ryan Harrison 6-4 6-2 at the Brisbane International last night.
The 22-year-old Australian staved off five break points in the first set, including three in his third service game as the American made a terrific fist of dealing with the booming Kyrgios delivery.
But Kyrgios held his nerve and pounced at his first opportunity, a pair of forehand passes earning the decisive break before an ace sealed the first set in 37 minutes.
Twice Kyrgios thrilled the crowd with delightful touch at the net, while he used angles from the baseline and the occasional flat forehand to throw the 25-year-old Harrison off his game.
A free-moving Kyrgios then cranked the pressure to another level in the second set, getting more balls in play on the world No 47’s serve as he eyed an early kill.
A Harrison double-fault to concede serve was telling of that intensity and a double break was more than enough security for a man who had only dropped serve three times all tournament.
His 17th ace sealed the victory in an hour and 13 minutes, Kyrgios appearing largely untroubled in his movement despite still wearing heavy strapping on his left knee.
“I’ve got fond memories of Brisbane, played Davis Cup here and had a massive win over the US,” Kyrgios said after the win.
“Coming here all week I felt right at home … I love playing in front of you guys even though sometimes you may not see it that way, but I do.”
In lifting the Roy Emerson Trophy, Kyrgios becomes the second Australian champion in the tournament’s 10-year history after Lleyton Hewitt in 2014.
The triumph, the fourth of his young career, lifts Kyrgios four spots to No 17 in the world ahead of this month’s Australian Open.
Brisbane’s field was weakened by the withdrawal of Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal, but Kyrgios still had to find a way by world No 3 Grigor Dimitrov to make the final.
His form in that match, plus his comprehensive disposal of Harrison in the decider will mean that he will arrive in Melbourne as a legitimate contender if his body holds up.
While claiming pre-tournament that he would not have a full-time coach on tour in 2018, Kyrgios credited his good friend Matt Reid for helping him to a title in front of his family and friends.
“He does more than that (coach), he’s pretty much my team,” Kyrgios said. “He doesn’t get the credit he deserves.”
John Peers will take winning form into his Australian Open men’s doubles defence after claiming a second Brisbane International crown with partner Henri Kontinen. The duo, ranked the No 3 and No 4 doubles players in the world, saw off Argentines Leonardo Mayer and Horacia Zeballos 3-6 6-3 (10-2) in yesterday’s final.
The unsung hero of Australia’s Davis Cup team has won the last two ATP Finals doubles titles alongside his Finnish partner, with last year’s Australian Open their first grand slam title together.
Peers and Jordan Thompson paired to win the doubles in Australia’s Davis Cup semi-final against Belgium in a tie Australia ultimately lost 3-2.
Australia begin their 2018 Davis Cup campaign against Germany in Brisbane next month, with Peers again shaping as a key fixture in the team.