Kyrgios beats Goffin to claim Japan Open crown
Big-serving Australian Nick Kyrgios came back from a set down to capture the Japan Open title with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over Belgium’s David Goffin in yesterday’s final.
World No. 15 Kyrgios, who arrived in Tokyo with a reputation as the enfant terrible of tennis but left having charmed the crowd with his flamboyant style, could not cope with world No. 14 Goffin’s accuracy in the first set and fell into a hole after being broken for only the second time this week at Ariake Colosseum.
But Kyrgios came storming back with a series of booming serves in the second set before breaking Goffin to take a 5-4 lead in the third, and the 21-year-old sealed the deal with his 25th ace of the match to claim his third title of the season following wins at Marseille and Atlanta.
“His strength is his returning so I knew I had to step up my serve a little bit, especially on second serve,” said Kyrgios, who landed only four aces in the first set but fired in 11 in the second and 10 in the third.
“I missed my fair share but I also got out of trouble a lot with my second serve.
“I had a lot of break points that I didn’t take today. If he had taken some of those break points or if I had taken some of those break points — any of us could have walked away with this trophy today. There were only a couple of points in it.”
Kyrgios converted only 2 of 13 break points and Goffin 1 of 12, but the Belgian claimed to have “no regrets” after struggling to tame Kyrgios’ monstrous serve.
“In the first set he wasn’t serving like he did in the second and the third,” said Goffin, who was looking to win his first title of the season.
“I tried to read his serve and just choose a side. But even if you choose the right side, he’s tough to return. I just tried to be solid on my service game and wait for opportunities.
“I think he had to serve well because I was better during the rallies, so I think he knew he had to serve bigger and better than in the first set. That’s why he tried to go a lot on the second serve, because he didn’t want to play the rallies.”
Kyrgios’ second serve at times topped 200 kph, but the Australian insisted he was simply playing his natural game.
“I’m just going for it,” he said. “If I miss I miss, if I make it I make it. More often than not I made it this week and it won me the matches.
“My serve is my best shot, so I have to believe in myself and go for it. If I feel that I’m not going to make the serve, I’m obviously not serving well. But if I’m serving well, I’m probably going to make the serve.”
Kyrgios won over the crowd this week in Tokyo with his audacious shot-making and devil-may-care attitude, but Goffin insisted he was not fazed by his opponent’s charismatic style.
“He tries everything just to win the match,” said Goffin.
“He tries to serve as fast as he can, he tries to not sit when we change over. He’s a showman and he likes to do it but it didn’t affect me.”
Kyrgios returned the crowd’s affection with selfies and even a bottle of water for a fan receiving medical attention this week, and the Australian is keen to return when Tokyo hosts the Olympics in 2020.
“I think it would be amazing,” said Kyrgios, who pulled out of his country’s team for the 2016 Rio Games after a row with the Australian Olympic Committee. “I heard that they might be playing at this venue and adding some more stadium courts. That would be awesome.
“Obviously I’d love to play the Olympics. It’s every sportsman’s dreams to play at the Olympics. They just enjoy it so much here. They’re respectful and they’re really fun to play in front of.”
Nick Kyrgios with his trophy yesterday Photo: AP