On Sunday in Marseille, 20-year old Aussie Nick Kyrgios stormed to his first ATP tour victory with a comprehensive 6-3, 7-6 over fourth-seed Marin Cilic. Our tipsters picked Kyrgios as our 14/1 Dark Horse to win in Marseille in our tournament preview. We then backed him again at 11/8 to win the final against Cilic in straight sets, which he duly did. Indeed, Kyrgios didn’t drop a set all week, nor suffer a single service break.
The 6’4” youngster’s controversial on-court behavior last season had earned him a reputation as the “bad-boy” of tennis coming into this event. However his behavior was impeccable in Marseille, and he let his tennis do the talking with some stunning results. Kyrgios blitzed third-seed Richard Gasquet 6-0, 6-4 in the quarterfinals – his first win in four against the Frenchman. He then thrashed second-seed Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-2 in the semis, gaining a measure of revenge over the man who had dumped him out of the Australian Open in January.
One might have thought that Kyrgios would have been a little nervous facing the big-hitting Cilic in only his second final. The 6’6” Croatian is himself ranked 12th in the world, and won the US Open in 2014. Instead Kyrgios came flying out of the blocks, breaking Cilic early for a 3-1 lead, and never looked back. He took the first set 6-3, and while the second set was closer and went with serve, Kyrgios stayed ice-cool in the tiebreak, taking it 7-3.
After the match 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.”
By defeating world no.10 Gasquet and world no.8 Berdych is successive matches, Kyrgios became the youngest player to record back-to-back wins over top-ten ranked opposition since Juan Martin Del Potro defeated Nadal and Federer en-route to the 2009 US Open title.
It was altogether a phenomenal week for the youngster, and if he can maintain that level of focus and form throughout the season, Nick Kyrgios could emerge as a real star in 2016.
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