Kyrgios crowned Optus 18s champion
UPDATE: Nick Kyrgios has defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis in a torrid three-set final of the Optus 18s Australian Championships, writes Jaclyn Stacey.
No.1 seed Nick Kyrgios has been crowned 2012 Optus 18s Australian Champion after prevailing in a thrilling three-set final against good friend and second seed Thanasi Kokkinakis, 6-4 4-6 6-4.
It appeared to be a battle of the minds, with both players known for producing emotional outbursts on court, and it seemed that whoever could remain more composed throughout the match would be the victor.
The first set played out evenly with the boys mixing up play and producing impressive groundstroke winners and exciting drop shots.
It was Kyrgios who managed to capitalise on a break point opportunity early on in the set to lead 2-1, and it was the only break he needed, closing out the set 6-4.
Kokkinakis came out of the blocks firing at the start of the second set, looking more focused and surprising Kyrgios with some smart play, including coming into the net more and producing several break point opportunities.
Kyrgios had to rely on his strong serve to get him out of trouble on many occasions. At 0-40 on his second service game he received a code violation for racquet abuse after smashing his racquet into the ground in frustration. He managed to hold the game with an ace, punctuating the air with a scream of “Vamos!”
South Australian Kokkinakis remained the mentally tougher throughout the set and on a set point opportunity against Kyrgios’ serve hit a superb cross court winner to claim the set 6-4 and level the match.
At 3-3 in the third set Kyrgios was gifted a break when a Kokkinakis drop shot failed to cross the net. Kyrgios then used his big serve to his advantage, holding for the remainder of his service games and sealing the championship 6-4 4-6 6-4.
The world No.4 junior was ecstatic after the victory, which sees him receive a wildcard entry into the Australian Open main draw qualifying event in January.
“It’s a great feeling. There has been some really good champions in the past like Luke Saville and Jason Kubler and they’ve all done some great things so I’m pretty excited for my future,” he said.
At various times during the match, Kyrgios gripped his taped up knees in pain, signalling he was struggling with a knee injury.
“Occasionally when Thanasi was running me around and I was slipping and sliding a bit it was pretty painful but I wasn’t expecting it to be 100 per cent so I knew that I had to serve really well which I did when I needed it.”
He says it was difficult competing against a good friend in Kokkinakis and gave him credit for his mental toughness when discussing the match.
“In the second set I was down 0-40 in a service game and I held and I thought that could be a turning point but he stayed mentally strong the whole set and broke me at 5-4,” he said.
“I was a bit in between of what was going to happen in the third. I was a bit tired and I was just thinking about obviously the result and everything else. Eventually at 3-3 he hit a drop shot at break point and I guess maybe he had some nerves or maybe just a bit of indecision and I was stoked with that and I took advantage of it and used the strength of my serve [to close out the match].”
Kyrgios says his greatest achievements this year include the two Grand Slam doubles titles he won with Andrew Harris at the French Open and Wimbledon. On his goals in 2013 he said the Australian Open is his first priority.
“Starting off at the Australian Open juniors will be great and I’ll hopefully be seeded No.1 there with a lot of expectation for all the Grand Slams. I’m also pretty excited for December Showdown next year already.”
Kyrgios plays top seed Sam Groth in the first round of the Australian Open 2013 Wildcard Play-off this week, and said he would keep today’s celebrations for another time.
“I’ll probably just chill out on the couch with the boys and have a normal day. Maybe go see a movie after.”