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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, August 7, 2022

 
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Combining wrecking ball serve with crazy creative touch, Nick Kyrgios conquered Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4, 6-3 to capture his seventh career title.

Photo credit: Citi Open

Nick Kyrgios took a commanding Capital curtain call.

Combining wrecking ball serve with crazy creative touch, Kyrgios conquered Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4, 6-3 to capture his second Washington, DC crown today.

More: Samsonova Soars to Washington, DC Title

It is Kyrgios' seventh career championship and first since he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev in succession to claim the 2019 Citi Open crown. Kyrgios didn't take too much time to celebrate: after the trophy presentation he joined partner Jack Sock in the doubles final.

Kyrgios and Sock stopped fourth seeds Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek 7-5, 6-4 in the doubles final. Kyrgios is the first man in the 53-year history of the tournament to sweep the Citi Open singles and doubles championships.






There's no place like home, but given Kygios' DC dominance—he's now 12-2 lifetime in the nation's Capital—you can understand why the 27-year-old Aussie views Rock Creek Park as a North American home.

 "City of Washington, I live in Canberra, Australia and we basically modeled our entire city on yours," Kyrgios told the crowd afterward. "So I love it here. It feels like home.

"It's emotional for me to be back here again and claim another title and I appreciate it."

Contesting his second straight final after bowing to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final last month, Kyrgios commanded the final breaking in the opening game of both sets and never looking back.

A focused Kyrgios cracked 12 aces, won 22 of 25 first-serve points and saved the only break point he faced in a one hour, 21-minute triumph.

Reading Kyrgios' serve is like trying to scan an inspection sticker of a car buzzing by at more than 100 mph. The unseeded Kyrgios did not drop serve en route to the title saving all 10 break points he faced.

Discipline and desire were essential elements to this title run for Kyrgios, who conceded there were times in his career a pub crawl was a prelude to his Centre Court appearances.

"Look, there was a time where I was having to be forced out of a pub at 4 a.m. to play Nadal second round," Kyrgios said at Wimbledon last month. "My agent had to come get me out of a pub at 4 a.m. before I played my match on Centre Court Wimbledon. I've come a long way, that's for sure."

Indeed, Kyrgios completely snuffed out any lingering hangover from his Wimbledon final loss where he led Djokovic by a set.

Once a chaos creator, Kyrgios is a model of consistency these days. He's reached semifinals or better in five of his last six tournaments and rises to No. 37 in the ATP live rankings.

"Congratulations Nick, we know each other since we were 14 years old," Nishioka said after falling to Kyrgios for the fourth time in as many meetings. "First time we played was in Netherlands, only that time I beat you. And now I'm losing matches.

"We know each other a long time ago and still we are here and still we are same age. Hopefully we are going to play more matches at this level until we retire."




The 27-year-old Kyrgios can be charming when he chooses and showed it praising Nishioka and cracking up fans in his victory speech.

"I want to congratulate Yoshi on an amazing week. You beat quality players every single round," Kyrgios said. "You deserve to be here. I would never want to see a talented player like you retire.

"We've known each other since 14 and you've grown to be a hell of a player. I hope you continue to play and achieve many more finals and let's keep the record the same."

This tournament, like the 2022 season, showed Kyrgios' commitment to resurgence. The Australian Open doubles champion fought off five match points out-dueling hometown hero Frances Tiafoe in an electrifying quarterfinal. Kyrgios' commitment to the cause and consistency are two major reasons why he's playing Top 5-level tennis right now despite what his ranking shows.

The 2019 champion burst out to an ideal start drawing successive netted errors to break in the opening game of the final.

Tennis Express

The 26-year-old Japanese was giving up a lot of ground returning several feet behind the baseline. Kyrgios exploited the open expanse of court serving-and-volleying at times and sliding a second serve ace out wide for 3-1.




The Wimbledon finalist's explosiveness restricted reaction time for Nishioka, who backed off the baseline to try to give himself a bit more time to respond to the Aussie's seismic serve. Kyrgios slammed his seventh ace down the middle, closing the 40-minute opening set with a bang.




Intent on imposing his aggression at the start of both sets, Kyrgios did exactly that.

Dancing around his backhand, Kyrgios cranked a flat forehand return right down the middle jamming Nishioka into an errant response. For the second straight set, Kyrgios broke in the first game. Kyrgios backed up the break at 30 for a one-set, 2-0 lead 52 minutes into this final.

Nishioka knocked off five Top 5 players en route to his third career final, including saving match point to topple Atlanta champion Alex de Minaur in round two and sweeping top-seeded Andrey Rublev in yesterday's semifinals.

The physical toll of that trek—combined with scalding heat—began wearing Nishioka down in the second set as he was coming up second set in rallies. Still, the scrappy Japanese left-hander escaped pressure holding for 2-3. 

By the ninth game, Nishioka was hanging on by a very thin thread.



The backhand produced from a brief backswing is one of Kyrgios' most reliable weapons. He hammered a two-hander into the corner for a second championship point. A gritty Nishioka slid a forehand down the line to deny it.

Tomahawking a heavy forehand winner gave Kyrgios a third championship point.

Running around his backhand, Kyrgios blazed another stinging forehand return drawing a netted reply.

The 2019 champion fell to the blue hard court and soaked in a historic title. Kyrgios is now the first Australian man to win Washington, DC multiple times and he did it with focus and firepower.


 

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