Nick Kyrgios received a welcome confidence boost ahead of the Australian Open by clinching the Brisbane International title on Sunday and admits he was encouraged by how he performed under pressure throughout the week.
The 22-year-old overcame an early assault from Ryan Harrison before he stormed to a 6-4, 6-2 victory over the American, and lifted his first tour-level trophy on home soil.
“I guess just the way that I put myself in some pretty tough situations. You know, came back from a set down three times and, you know, against three pretty good opponents,” said Kyrgios when asked what he was most pleased about this week in Brisbane.
“And for me, that’s just confidence not only mentally but physically as well, and battling and fighting hard. And it’s good to see the work I was doing in the offseason is paying off. But pretty happy with my performance today.”
Kyrgios claimed his fourth career title with a 73-minute success over Harrison, who couldn’t convert any of the five break point opportunities he created in the opening set.
Kyrgios was in fierce form in the second, dropping just two points on his own serve.
“He came out firing early. He had a lot of chances. And I knew that was going to kind of be the gist of how things were going to go. I knew he was going to come out and play really aggressive, try and take things into his own hands,” said Kyrgios of his American opponent.
“And I was just telling myself, you know, just keep with it and things will kind of steady on. And obviously got the break, hit two great returns to break him in the first set and managed to just open up and really play good tennis in the second.”
The match was not without its heated moments as Kyrgios questioned the umpire’s decision to refuse him a medical timeout to re-tape his injured knee but allow Harrison a toilet break between sets which the Aussie viewed as lengthy.
Kyrgios to umpire: “So this is in the rulebook right now? That he can just leave the court for like 10 minutes”
— Reem Abulleil (@ReemAbulleil) January 7, 2018
“I just find it strange I can’t take a medical timeout for taping that takes a couple of minutes, but someone can leave the court for up to 10 minutes or whatever is reasonable. It’s a bit a gray area. Doesn’t really make sense,” Kyrgios explained later in his press conference.
“Change of ends I was just wondering about the rule. Like, why I couldn’t take a medical timeout for the knee taping? And I was just saying, for instance, if my knee was to keep me out of the Australian Open — which, you know, who knows. It could — why I couldn’t get a medical time-out?
“I was just seeing where the rule kind of — you know, where the line is. It was just professional curiosity.”
Kyrgios became the first Australian since Lleyton Hewitt in 2014 to win the title in Brisbane. While Kyrgios has long spoken about the influence of Hewitt on him, particularly as Davis Cup captain, the Canberra-native paid tribute to another Aussie who has been in his corner, helping him out — Matt Reid.
A former top-200 player in singles and current top-100 player in doubles, Reid has been accompanying Kyrgios — who has no coach — on tour for the past two and half years.
“Reidy has kind of been there for me the last two-and-a-half years travelling with me to places that aren’t the greatest,” said Kyrgios, who has stated multiple times the struggles he faces being away from home for long stretches of time during the season.
“And it’s tough being — you know, I was on the road for four months last year. And not going home, it’s not easy. People think you’ve got, you know, it’s an unbelievable lifestyle. You get to see all of these new places. But in reality, it’s not the best.
“I mean, it’s unbelievable. Don’t get me wrong. But obviously to see a familiar face and a guy that has your best interests at heart, you know, to wake up to, and we go to the courts and warm up. He does my rackets. He does everything for me. He doesn’t get enough credit.”
Asked if he sees him as a coach, Kyrgios said: “He gives me tactics sometimes. Yeah, I mean, he’s more of a — how do I put it? He kind of just guides me in the right direction. Like when you bowl, he’s like the side pins. He’s there.”
— John Morris (@JohnMorris1982) January 7, 2018
On his part, Harrison was pleased with his week in Brisbane — a tournament where he had never won a match before in four attempts prior to his 2018 run.
The 25-year-old will rise to No. 44 when the rankings come out on Monday. He remains winless against Kyrgios though in three career meetings with the Aussie.
“His level is very high. I think that we all know how well he can play. He brought a very high level today,” said Harrison, who said he will pull out of the Auckland tournament and head straight to Melbourne for the Australian Open.
“And playing out here in Australia, he’s obviously very motivated and very comfortable. You know, he’s going to be a danger to beat anybody that he plays whenever he plays like that. I think that it’s nothing new, though, for him. He knows that and he knows he has the level.”
Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka have both had their first practice sessions at Melbourne Park ahead of next week’s Australian Open as they look to make their first competitive appearances since Wimbledon last July.
Djokovic, who has been dealing with an elbow injury, and Wawrinka, who had double knee surgery last August, will test themselves in a Tie Break Tens exhibition event on Margaret Court Arena on Wednesday January 10.
Both Djokovic and Wawrinka were due to appear at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi but pulled out stating they weren’t ready to compete.
Djokovic then withdrew from the Qatar Open.
Fans of the pair will be delighted to see footage of them training in Melbourne this week as they look set to make their long-awaited returns.
Djokovic arrived at the Australian Open with his new coach Radek Stepanek while Wawrinka is without Magnus Norman having ended his four-year partnership with the Swede last October.
Andy Murray is reportedly suffering from pain in both his hips, rather than just his right one, according to Pat Cash, who spoke to the Sunday Times about a conversation he had with the Scot in Abu Dhabi last week.
Cash, an ambassador for the Abu Dhabi event, apparently spoke to Murray about his physical problems that have sidelined him from the tour since Wimbledon last July. The Australian 1987 Wimbledon champion says Murray told him he has pain in both hips.
Murray flew to Brisbane from Abu Dhabi, in hopes of returning to action, but pulled out of the tournament, as well as next week’s Australian Open.
“I was talking to Andy in Abu Dhabi and told him I was getting pain in one of my hips and he told me his problems were in both hips,” Cash told the Sunday Times.
“He was pretty open about it and I thought he was resigned to the fact.”
He added: “Andy has been a great champion, but the way he has always played, in a style that relies so much on fitness and being stronger than the other guy, and the way he has punished his body, the end result was always going to be something like this.”
Murray posted an emotional message on his Instagram account last week detailing his struggle with his ongoing hip injury, and admitted that surgery is an option.
Cash’s comments imply the ex-world No. 1 is potentially facing double hip surgery.
Marvelling at the depth of medical knowledge that some ex players, radio presenters, journalists and sports pundits appear to have acquired recently. pic.twitter.com/f38XCN33xW
— judy murray (@JudyMurray) January 5, 2018