Kyrgios Races Into Maiden Masters 1000 Final
If he was away, Nick Kyrgios is without a doubt back, and he's never been in a better position.
The 22-year-old Aussie reached his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final on Saturday, beating Spanish veteran David Ferrer 7-6(3), 7-6(4) at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. The semi-final win marks the second consecutive victory against a Spanish great for Kyrgios, who upset incoming-World No. 1 Rafael Nadal 24 hours earlier.
“He was a nightmare to play, especially because I'm a tall guy and he's not the tallest guy. He hits the ball pretty flat. The whole time there is nothing shoulder height for me to hit. I'm always trying to hit underneath and trying to hit up and over it,” Kyrgios said.
“It's a tough matchup for me. I thought today I didn't play my best tennis. I certainly didn't serve great during the set. In the tie-breaks I served well, but I definitely didn't bring my best tennis today. I'm just really proud that I managed to scrap out the win.”
Kyrgios will play in his first title match of the season on Sunday when he faces Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, who prevailed 7-6(4), 7-6(10) against John Isner of the U.S. There were no service breaks in either semi-final. “I'm going to go out there and compete and try to serve big and play big. Whatever happens, happens,” Kyrgios said.
Dimitrov will also be playing in his first Masters 1000 title match. The 26 year old beat Kyrgios in their only prior FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, a three-set win at 2015 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
But Kyrgios, who has struggled with hip and shoulder injuries the past two months, looks to be healthy and close to the level that saw him reach the Miami Open presented by Itau semi-finals in March, his other Masters 1000 semi-final (l. to Federer) this season.
Against Ferrer, who reached 2014 Cincinnati final, Kyrgios chased down ball after ball as the 35-year-old Spaniard pulled him from side to side in the opening set. Kyrgios came through in the tie-break, though, benefitting from a Ferrer double fault at 1/2 and unloading his serve-forehand combination to gain a one-set lead.
He played more comfortably in the second set, seeing two break points at 2-2 but failing to convert. With Ferrer serving at 5-6, Kyrgios would get another chance when he ripped a forehand past Ferrer to earn a match point. Yet the gutsy Ferrer erased it and held.
They headed to another tie-break, where Kyrgios dominated. The Aussie hit his 13th and 14th aces to bring up three match points. He'd need only two as Ferrer lifted a backhand wide to put Kyrgios into the Cincinnati title match.