Nick Kyrgios drew upon all of his physical reserves to beat David Goffin 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 and win the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2016 on Sunday. The #NextGen star saved 11 of 12 break points and fired 25 aces to secure his first ATP World Tour 500 title in just over two hours.
“It was tough, we had a lot of long rallies,” Kyrgios said. “I thought the way I returned today got me a lot of opportunities. It was a high-quality match, but I got lucky at times as well.”
The turning point of the match occurred with Kyrgios serving at 4-5, 0/30. Goffin stepped into a backhand which wrong-footed the Aussie, but the ball clipped the top of the net and denied the Belgian an opportunity to go match point up. Relieved, Kyrgios held serve and swept the final three games to win.
“Perhaps I would have been love-40 up if I made that shot, but the way he was serving, you never know if he might still come back,” said Goffin, who saw his opponent erase two 0/40 deficits earlier in the match. “It’s not easy to break him, because he was hitting 215 km/h serve on the line. I was trying to guess which way he was going. But he can still ace you. I tried my best, and it worked until 5-4 in the final set.”
Goffin made the better start, grabbing the lone break of the first set by pushing Kyrgios behind the baseline and finding the open court with stinging groundstrokes. The Belgian was also aiming for his maiden ATP World Tour 500 title, and Kyrgios was hard-pressed to find solutions to his game in the early going.
“I played a very tough match against Gael Monfils yesterday, so it took me a little time to get into this match,” Kyrgios said. “David makes you feel like the court is very small. My serve got me out of trouble today.
“I enjoyed playing in front of the great crowd here. They’re very enthusiastic and very respectful. I have always loved playing in Japan.”
By winning the biggest title of his career so far, Kyrgios earned 500 Emirates ATP Rankings Points and $310,330. Goffin took home 300 points and $145,750.