Kyr­gios beats Gof­fin to claim Ja­pan Open crown

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

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

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