AN elated Nick Kyrgios has hailed the supreme sustained serving display that delivered a maiden ATP Tour singles title in Marseille as the finest of his young career.
Confirming his standing as a rapidly rising grand slam contender, Kyrgios downed US Open winner Marin Cilic 6-2 7-6 (7-3) to claim the Open 13 in Marseille.
Impressively composed during victories over Vasek Pospisil, Teymuraz Gabashvili, Richard Gasquet, Tomas Berdych and Cilic, Kyrgios blasted 72 aces for the week.
Unbroken in 47 service games, the 20-year-old downed three current or former top 10 players to become Australia’s newest ATP winner.
“I thought I backed up three days in a row with some really top quality tennis,” Kyrgios said.
“I haven’t played like that in a while. To come up with three straight wins against those players is pretty impressive.
“I think this week was probably the best serving of my career. It was constantly getting better and definitely got me out of pressure situations this week.
It feels good. It’s something that I’d never done before. To come here and win my first title is a good feeling. Hopefully there are plenty more to come.
“I’m not surprised that I played well, but I am surprised I played at the level I was able to play at.
“I served really, really well. I was training hard back home and I was doing everything that I needed to be doing.”
Kyrgios travels to Dubai this week before returning to Melbourne for next week’s blockbuster first-round Davis Cup tie against the US at Kooyong.
Pocketing $165,000 in prizemoney and climbing up to No 32 in the world rankings, Kyrgios is the first player under the age of 21 to beat top 10 opponents in consecutive matches since Juan Martin del Potro at the 2009 US Open.
The Argentine rolled Rafa Nadal in the semi-finals before stunning Roger Federer in the decider.
Contesting his second career final after defeat to Gasquet in Estoril last year, Kyrgios said: “I played my first final last year and was looking for my first title.
“But I didn’t really expect to win this title this week after having a couple of weeks off.
“But from the first round I started playing really well and just gained confidence as I kept winning matches.”
Kyrgios had Cilic under pressure from the start and converted his eighth break point for a 3-1 lead in the opener. The Canberra native then secured a second break in the seventh game before serving out the set to love.
The second set was a tighter affair. Cilic saved a break point in the third game and had the chance to take the match to a decider with a set point in the 10th game. But Kyrgios denied the Croat on his only break point of the match to level at 5-5.
In the tiebreak, Kyrgios earned the mini-break to lead 5-3 and closed out the match with his 17th ace of the contest after 85 minutes.
“I think I served really, really well again,” said Kyrgios.
“I was serving really well all week. I didn’t get broken once. That was the main thing that was good. And I was able to put pressure on my opponents’ serves a lot when I was going through my service games really quickly.”
Kyrgios was playing just his second tournament of the season, having reached the third round of the Australian Open in January. He was forced to withdraw from Rotterdam last week due to an elbow injury.