Nick Kyrgios is emerging as one of the favourites for next month’s Australian Open after winning the ATP 250 event in Brisbane.
The talented Aussie defeated American Ryan Harrison 6-4 6-2 to lift his first title on home turf, and the 22-year-old from Canberra will now head into the first major of 2018 full of confidence.
After a hard-fought opening set, Kyrgios produced some dazzling tennis in the second to secure the victory in an hour and 13 minutes.
If he can produce something similar in just over a week’s time, the world number 21 is sure to be a threat at his home slam, which gets underway in Melbourne on January 15.
The only worry for Kyrgios is an ongoing knee problem, which looked like it may force him to pull out of his opening round match with Matthew Ebden earlier this week.
Here, the Aussie was denied a medical timeout to treat the issue midway through the first set, as he was already carrying the injury before he stepped onto court.
Still, it didn’t seem to affect him too much, and Kyrgios can look back on a positive week, which also included a semi-final victory over world number three Grigor Dimitrov.
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Harrison applies some early pressure
Harrison, the world number 47, was due to play Britain’s Andy Murray in the opening round before the three-time Grand Slam champion withdrew due to a hip injury.
The American subsequently took full advantage of a favourable draw to reach the third ATP final of his career.
And in the earlier stages, it was Harrison who looked the most likely to make a breakthrough, as he failed to capitalise on two break points chances before the Australian broke into his stride.
Kyrgios fended off three more break points at 3-3 in the opening set with a couple of timely first serves, before he called for a timeout to treat his niggling injury.
The Aussie may have been denied an official timeout to treat his taped-up knee, but Kyrgios was still able to secure a decisive break in the following game of the second which was enough to clinch the opening set.
Despite that, Kyrgios wasn’t impressed when Harrison took a lengthy bathroom break at the start of the second.
He vented his frustration at umpire Fergus Murphy, though compared to some of his previous on court rants, this was pretty tame.
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Kyrgios takes control
The prolonged pause didn’t affect Kyrgios, and he carried his momentum into the second set, which quickly ran away from his opponent.
Harrison double faulted on break point in the third game and the result rarely looked in doubt after that.
From there, Kyrgios quickly pressed on the accelerator and played some of his best tennis with some hefty forehands and crafty forays to the net.
From 1-1 in the second set, Kyrgios won four games in a row to move within touching distance of the title.
Harrison did force his opponent to serve it out, which Kyrgios duly did, finishing with an ace