#NextGen star Nick Kyrgios turned in a masterful performance in defeating No. 2 seed Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4 at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2016 on Saturday. The Aussie was at his entertaining best and secured the win in 90 minutes. He will face David Goffin, who defeated Marin Cilic, in the final. It will be the pair’s first tour-level meeting.
“It was an unbelievable match, we both played very well,” Kyrgios said. “The crowd loved it and we both had a lot of fun out there. Not many people on tour can hit the type of shots Gael can. He’s an unbelievable entertainer and athlete. We play different games. I rely on my serve more, but I want to work to become as athletic as he is and also be an entertainer like him.”
Playing a top opponent in a jam-packed Ariake Coliseum brought out the best of Kyrgios, who routinely topped 130mph on his first serve and fired groundstrokes with abandon. Monfils did well to keep pace with the No. 6 seed, breaking back for 1-1 in the second set, but the Frenchman’s heroic defence would ultimately prove insufficient.
“It was a high-quality match and it was good to see the crowd enjoying it,” Monfils said. “Nick was better than me today. We’re athletes and we need to accept that sometimes. But it does not change my mindset at all for Shanghai or London. I’ve played some good matches here this week.”
Goffin moved into his first ATP World Tour final of the season with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Cilic, his third victory over the Croatian in as many FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings. Goffin was down 3-5 in the opening set, but broke back and did not drop serve the rest of the way.
“I didn’t play my best tennis at the beginning of the week, but match by match I was able to find my rhythm,” Goffin said. “I was nervous in the first round against Nishioka, who played a good match. Today I was playing much better. It’s a small mental thing, but once you are comfortable and playing freely, it makes a big difference on the court.”
“I had a lot of opportunities, being a break up and serving for the first set,” Cilic said. “I had some small opportunities after that but I didn’t execute well. It was a little bit disappointing. The ball wasn’t obeying me today.”
The Belgian was the shortest player into the semi-finals but outplayed the 6’6” Cilic by taking control of points off the first ball. Goffin won 87 per cent of first serve points (34/39) by stretching Cilic and following up with a shot to the open court. On the return, the crafty Belgian selectively hit his first shot down the middle of the court, jamming the big man and drawing unforced errors.
“I was looking to play the ball deep with pace, since it was not easy to generate angles when I’m trying to return his serve,” Goffin said. “In the second set, especially, I was winning many points hitting down the middle as he got more tired.”
Cilic and Goffin are 10th and 11th in the Emirates ATP Race To London respectively. Goffin would be 540 points behind No. 8 Dominic Thiem if he captures his first ATP World Tour 500 title in Tokyo.
Doubles Final Set
No. 2 seed Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram are into the doubles final after defeating Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-4. Klaasen/Ram, who are No. 6 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Race To London, won 83 per cent of second-serve points and did not drop serve. They will face Marcel Granollers and Marcin Matkowski for the title.