Third seed Nick Kyrgios got off to a dream start to the 2018 season, wrapping up an opening-week title at the Brisbane International by beating American Ryan Harrison in straight sets.
The win is the Canberra-native’s first win on home soil in Australia. After needing three sets in every match to reach the final, Kyrgios did not have things his own way in the early stages of the title match either. But after surviving some early pressure from Harrison, the Aussie cruised to his fourth career title.
Early pressure from Harrison
Despite being the massive underdog, it was Harrison who came flying out of the gate. Kyrgios found himself in a 15-40 hole in his first service game but managed to draw errors to erase both break points. The American continued to press and held three more break points at 40-AD in the sixth game, but Kyrgios overpowered him to save all three, including one with an ace, and hold for 3-3.
That would prove to be it for Harrison. After losing the point to go down 40-AD for the third time in that sixth game, Kyrgios would win his next 22 service points in a row, including four straight love holds until the sixth game of the second set, and 27 of the remaining 29 on his way to the title. After failing to convert any of his five break points, Harrison was punished in the following game when Kyrgios broke at the first time of asking, drawing the American into the net with a short return before ripping a forehand winner. Back-to-back love holds gave the opening set to the Aussie.
Kyrgios cruises to crown
The third seed kept the momentum going into the second set. With Harrison serving at 1-1, Kyrgios powered his way to double break point. The American saved the first with a smart net approach, only to give the break away with a double fault on the following point. With Kyrgios serving at such a high level, Harrison had essentially signed his own death warrant.
And the Aussie’s level did not drop. Kyrgios would not lose a point on his own serve until leading 4-1, 40-0. At that point, the Aussie had already added a second break in the previous game, despite a valiant effort by Harrison who saved the first three break points he faced in that game. Kyrgios would hold for 5-1 and two games later, served out the title with a hold to 15, wrapping up the championship with an ace.
By the numbers
Kyrgios’ serve was too much for Harrison to handle. Despite some challenges early in the first set, the Aussie’s serve would carry him to the title on the heels of 17 aces, 83 percent of first serve points won, and all five break points saved. He converted three of his seven break points. Harrison’s serve let him down, only putting 55 percent of his first serves in play and only winning 46 percent of points when missing his first delivery.
The title is the fourth of Kyrgios’ career, but first home soil. He moves to 4-3 in career finals, while Harrison falls in 1-2. The title in Brisbane bodes well for Kyrgios’ season. The last three years in a row, the Brisbane champion went on to finish the season at number three in the world (Roger Federer in 2015, Milos Raonic in 2016, Grigor Dimitrov in 2017).