Nick Kyrgios had a breakthrough season in 2016, winning three ATP titles and cracking the Top 15, and he had a few good results in 2017 as well, advancing to his first Masters 1000 final in Cincinnati. He failed to lift a trophy and had some poor moments on the court but he left that behind him and start all over again in 2018, kicking off the season from Brisbane.
Nick was bothered by a knee injury but he managed to pass four obstacles and win his first ATP title on the home soil, beating Ryan Harrison in the final 6-4 6-2 in 73 minutes. Kyrgios needed three sets to oust Matthew Ebden, Alexandr Dolgopolov and Grigor Dimitrov in the semis but he saved his best tennis for the title match, especially from the second part of the opening set when he took charge and controlled the result until the very end.
This was the third meeting between Kyrgios and Harrison and Nick won all of those in straight sets, having troubles only in their first set in Tokyo 2016. Ryan had a great week in Brisbane and he had the upper hand in the first part of the match, looking to win his second ATP title from the fourth final.
He was aggressive and determined to keep the points on his racquet, hitting well from his backhand and pressuring Kyrgios's right wing to take the advantage in the rallies. Nick had to dig deep in his opening three service games, saving five break points in total before he started to play more smoothly and seize the momentum.
Ryan was not the same player after he squandered those opportunities he had on the return, fully aware of Kyrgios' abilities on serve, and he lost his ground completely after that, inferior in the remaining games until the end of the match.
Once Nick found his range from the baseline it was impossible for Harrison to follow that pace and the American fell down easily in set number two when he was powerless on the return and got broken twice. Nick served at 71% and he won 14 points in nine service games, 12 in the opening three service games and just two in the following six! Harrison was nowhere near those numbers and he had to play against seven break points, losing serve thrice.
Kyrgios fired 26 service winners that kept him in contention in those troubled service games, and Ryan stayed on 18, which was also good. The Aussie also had more winners from the field, outplaying the American 14-10 once he settled into a right rhythm.
Harrison hit 13 unforced errors compared to nine from Kyrgios, and they had 10 forced errors each. 71% of the points ended in the shortest range up to four strokes and Nick had a clear 47-34 advantage in them. He also outplayed Ryan in the mid-range points from 5 to 8 shots, winning 15 out of 26, and he had a slim 4-3 lead in seven longest points to earn his win fair and square.
Ryan opened the match with three winners and he created two break points in game two that could send him in front early on. Nick got out of jail with a good attack and three service winners and we saw another deuce on his serve in game four.
Harrison claimed the previous game with additional three winners and he fired a return winner to push Nick on the return again before the Aussie blasted two aces to level the score at 2-2. The American was in a great rhythm on serve, holding with ease in game five and making an even bigger effort on Kyrgios' serve, creating three break points in game six.
He was the superior player on the court so far but he couldn't materialize his advantage and make that decisive move that would give him the advantage. Nick pulled some good shots when he needed them the most and he held for a 3-3, firing five service winners in this game which pretty much kept him in contention so far.
Kyrgios broke in game seven out of nowhere after a double fault from Harrison and his two forehand winners and this was a game changer, shifting the momentum to the side of the home favorite. Everything was much easier for Nick now and he confirmed the break with three winners in game eight before Harrison reduced the deficit to 5-4 with four service winners in game nine.
Still, he couldn't do much on the return in game 10 and Kyrgios brought the set home with three service winners after 37 minutes. Nick had an 18-10 lead in service winners and it was 7-6 for Ryan in the winners from the field thanks to that opening six games when he had the upper hand.
The American made one unforced error more than Nick (6-5) and he forced seven forced mistakes from Kyrgios while he stayed on just three. Nick had to work hard to overcome a slow start and save those break points but once he did that he became the dominant figure and it was interesting to see could he keep the same level in set number two.
Harrison held at 30 at the start of the second set but Nick was untouchable on his serve now, blasting three winners for his third hold at love in a row, sending the pressure back to Ryan. The American lost the ground and he made three mistakes to give his serve away in game three, sealing his own fate with a double fault.
Everything worked in Kyrgios' favor now and he added three winners to his tally in game four to increase his lead to 3-1. Harrison lost all the advantage he had from the baseline and he got broken again in game five after 6 errors he made.
Nick sealed the deal with two easy holds in games six and eight, hitting three winners in each and crossing the finish line with an ace to celebrate his first title in front of the home crowd. The Aussie failed to make a difference with his serve in the second set, with 8 service winners for each, but he outplayed Ryan from the court, blasting 8 winners against 3 for the American.
Harrison was unable to control his groundstrokes, committing 14 errors (7 unforced and 7 forced) while Nick stayed on only 7 which also made the difference and helped him to close the match on a high note.
Point by point result and the number of shots in the rallies: