Following his drama-filled sensational second-round win over top-seeded Rafael Nadal in Acapulco, Nick Kyrgios did not exhibit any letdown as he backed up the victory with three consecutive huge wins.
On Saturday evening, the Aussie held off second-seeded Alexander Zverev, 6-3, 6-4, to claim his fifth ATP Tour title—his first since winning Brisbane Open over 13 months ago. He came out firing, taking the opening set 6-3, and going up 2-0 in the second. However, the 21-year-old German was able to break back but the unseeded 23-year-old broke again and never looked back.
“It’s an amazing feeling. I didn’t expect much at all today. I knew I was the underdog going in and that he’s playing great tennis,” said Kyrgios. “He’s an incredible player and doesn’t have many weaknesses, so I knew I had to play my style of tennis. I’m really happy with the performance.”
Kyrgios, who saw his ranking drop to No. 72, had only won two matches this year before coming into this tournament. His road to the final wasn't easy—he saved three match points in his second-round match, battled past rejuvenated Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals, and fought tooth and nail against third-seeded John Isner in the semifinals.
The Australian star, who reached a career high of No. 13 in 2016, also battled health scares this week. His lower back bothered him, had food poising before his clash with Nadal, and overcame a hand injury and leg cramps during his quarterfinal match.
“It’s hopefully an example for people who are struggling and getting in some places you don’t think you can get out of. If I can do it, you can do it,” said Kyrgios. “I was really down and out and didn’t know what I was going to do, but you have a week like this and things can change.”
Zverev, who had not competed since losing to Milos Raonic in the Australian Open fourth round earlier this year, had not dropped a set coming into the final. He was very gracious in his defeat.
"He's the one who deserves to win the tournament this week," said Zverev, referring to Kyrgios. "And he's the real champion of this week."