From the lows of his struggles with mental health this time one year ago, Nick Kyrgios has once again risen to become a champion on the ATP Tour. The Aussie claimed a well-deserved reward for arguably the most consistent season of his career by winning the Citi Open title against Yoshihito Nishioka on Sunday.
Playing in the singles final for the second straight event after his breakthrough Wimbledon run, Kyrgios outclassed his Japanese opponent in a 6-4, 6-3 victory, claiming his first title since his 2019 Washington triumph. In an efficient display, Kyrgios converted on his first two break chances to take an instant lead in both sets and broke again on his third match point to secure his seventh tour-level title.[ATP APP]
“It’s just very emotional for me,” he said in a post-match interview. “To see where I was at last year to now, it’s just an incredible transformation. I just came out with great energy. I knew that I had experience on my side today. I love this court, I’ve played so many good matches here, so I’m just really happy with myself.
“I’ve been in some really dark places. Just to be able to turn it around… There are so many people who have helped me get there, but myself, I’ve shown some serious strength to just continue and persevere and get through all those times and be able to still perform and win tournaments like this one.”
The Aussie did not drop serve in the tournament and saved all 10 break points he faced, including one in the final. He saved five match points to get there, all coming in a quarter-final epic against local favourite Frances Tiafoe — the only of his six D.C. matches in which he dropped a set.
Despite a 48 per cent first-serve percentage in the opening set, Kyrgios maintained his early advantage with strong all-court play and saved the only break point against him at 3-2 with a serve and volley on a heavy-kick second serve.
Kyrgios threatened to run away with the second set but could not find a second break until the very end. One of the points of the match came with Nishioka serving a 2-4, as Kyrgios tracked down a tough volley and ripped a forehand right at the body of his opponent, whose fast hands were up to the task. The exchange drew a smile from Nishioka, though the Aussie was unmoved with his eyes on the prize.
On the very next point, Kyrgios floated a perfect topspin lob. But despite feeling the effects of a gruelling week in the Washington heat, Nishioka stood firm to stay within touching distance. Undeterred, Kyrgios got on top of the rallies in his final return game, ultimately claiming victory when a blasted inside-out forehand return drew an error.
Kyrgios collapsed to the floor after his dominant victory, once again an ATP Tour champion three years on from his last taste of glory. He remains undefeated at 4-0 in his ATP Head2Head against Nishioka.
This week’s performance moved the Aussie up 24 places to No. 21 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, and up 26 places to No. 37 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. Kyrgios has won 11 of his past 12 matches, losing only the Wimbledon final in four sets to Novak Djokovic.
He will now turn his attention to the D.C. doubles final, where he will team with Jack Sock against fourth seeds Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek. Soon after, he’ll be off to Montreal, where he could face World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev in the second round of the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers.