Nick Kyrgios hopes surprise Acapulco win can serve as an inspiration
Australian wins his first title in more than 12 months with victory over Alexander Zverev in the final
Australian Nick Kyrgios hopes that his unlikely success in Mexico can serve as an inspiration to people that it is possible to bounce back from difficult times.
He capped a scintillating run in Acapulco with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over world No 3 Alexander Zverev Saturday to claim his first ATP title in more than a year.
Kyrgios defeated three top-10 players on the way to being triumphant at the tournament, saving three match points in a second-round victory over second-ranked Rafael Nadal - and beating world No 9 John Isner in the semis.
He also beat three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals of a drama-filled week that saw him shake off hostile crowds, illness, injuries and moments of malaise - not to mention a post-match scolding from Nadal after he had served under arm at one stage.
This had come after a poor past 12 months in which he fallen to No 72 in the ATP rankings having been previously as high as No 13.
He said: “It’s hopefully an example for people who are struggling and getting in some places you don’t think you can get out of. If I can do it, you can do it.
“I was really down and out and didn’t know what I was going to do, but you have a week like this and things can change.”
His win over Zverev was a remarkably straightforward affair, given the drama of the previous few days.
"I just chucked in a lot of drop shots, tried to keep him guessing, that's all you can do," said Kyrgios.
"He's super-fit, so he's going to grind you down so I tried to keep the points short when I could," added Kyrgios, who spent more than nine hours on court over his four prior matches but needed just an hour and a half to dispatch Zverev.
"You know, I lack on the physical side a little bit," Kyrgios admitted with a smile. "But today I served well and just played the clutch points pretty well."
Indeed it was Zverev whose nerves were frayed after Kyrgios broke him at love in the fourth game of the opening set then held for a 4-1 lead, prompting the German to smash his racquet in frustration.
Kyrgios broke again to open the second set, but double-faulted on break point in the next game.
He broke Zverev again in the fifth game and held with confidence the rest of the way to capture his first title since Brisbane in January of 2018.
While Kyrgios had come to embrace the role of tournament villain in which pro-Nadal fans had cast him, Zverev said fans should appreciate what they had seen from him.
"Really, he's the one who deserves to win it," Zverev said. "He's the real champion this week," and the fans, finally won over, cheered.
Kyrgios, for his part, said he had enjoyed being seen as the bad guy by the crowd and had relished the environment he had to play in.
“The crowd created the atmosphere every day. It was the best atmosphere I’ve ever played in. They were booing me and I still enjoyed playing and being here,” he said. “They created the emotions, the memories, the event. It was amazing.”
Kyrgios admitted that, despite the on-court antics that seemed to drive him on in Mexico, that he may have to change his ways if he is to get back to the top of the game.
“I’m very lucky to be in this position," he said. "I need to be way more disciplined, way better professionally and do the right things. I don’t even have a coach, so maybe I start there.”
Updated: March 3, 2019 02:35 PM