Nick Kyrgios wins Brisbane title to boost Australian Open bid

Nick Kyrgios holds the trophy after winning the Brisbane International. Picture: Getty
Nick Kyrgios holds the trophy after winning the Brisbane International. Picture: Getty
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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 break-point chances in the first set but the American 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,” he said. “As the week went on, I started serving better and hitting the ball better. There was pressure on me because I was the favourite and most people expected me to win, so I was proud of the way I handled that.”

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 next Monday.

His best run at an Australian Open was a quarter-final 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 semi-finals.

“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 off-season is paying off.”

Julia Goerges won her third straight title as she clinched victory over former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki at the ASB Classic in Auckland. The 29-year-old German was in sparkling form, firing 41 winners and making just 23 unforced errors to win 6-4, 7-6 (4/7) after 90 minutes on court.

Goerges, pictured, who was runner-up to US Open champion Sloane Stephens in 2016, won the first set with her seventh ace, having broken serve in the first game. She broke again in the first game of the second set, before the world No 3 fought back to force a tie-break. With a thundering forehand proving her biggest asset, it was only fitting for Goerges, the No 2 seed, to seal the title with a forehand winner.

After the match, she said her achievement felt “amazing”. She added on the WTA website: “It’s not just about winning here, but the consistency I’ve had for the last few weeks and months. That makes me prouder and I’m just enjoying every moment.”

Wozniacki, meanwhile, vowed to get her revenge at the Australian Open in Melbourne later this month.

Quoted on the website, she said: “She played really well today and she had a great end to last season too, so it’s good to see her bringing that form into this year. I’ll try to get my revenge in Australia!”

Goerges, ranked No 14 in the world, earned her back-to-back victories at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow and the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, while Wozniacki won the biggest title of her career in October at the WTA Finals in Singapore.

Elsewhere on the tour, British No 2 Heather Watson came through an early scare in her second qualifying match to reach the main draw at the Hobart International.

Despite dropping the first set, she fought back to beat Japan’s Nao Hibino 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, and will face Romania’s Sorana Cirstea in the first round of a tournament she won in 2015.

The 2016 champion Alize Cornet was dispatched in the first round yesterday 
by the Romanian Mihaela 
Buzarnescu.