Skipping the Olympics has paid off for Nick Kyrgios after he won his second ATP World Tour title at the Atlanta Open.
The 21-year-old Australian beat three-time defending champion John Isner 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-4) in the final on Sunday.
Kyrgios matched the 210cm tall Isner’s powerful service game, especially in the tiebreakers, and even topped the ace count 17-16.
The win lifts Kyrgios to a career-high No.16 in the world rankings and puts him on track for a top-16 seeding at the US Open later this month, meaning he won’t have to play one of the top eight until the fourth round.
Kyrgios made himself unavailable for Rio Olympics selection after being sent a 16-page letter by Australian Games team chief Kitty Chiller asking him to explain some of his behaviour.
The volatile tennis star said he pulled out because the Australian Olympic Committee had “chosen to publicly and privately disparage” him.
Putting his spat with Chiller behind him, Kyrgios capitalised against a less than stellar field in Atlanta, where he was the second seed behind Isner, as he added to the title he won in Marseille in February.
“This week was so much fun,” Kyrgios said.
“I had my best friend here. I had my mum here, and a couple of the guys I’m closest with on the Tour were here early in the week.
“It was probably the best week I’ve had off the court in a long time. It’s just rewarding that I played well.”
Kyrgios didn’t appear bothered by the conditions for the final that began with temperatures in the mid-30 degrees celsius with thick humidity.
During Isner’s 15-match Atlanta winning streak that ended on Sunday, he was 12-2 in tiebreakers.
“I knew it was going tough from the get go,” Kyrgios said.
“John just feels so comfortable out on that court.
“I thought in the tiebreaks I didn’t really miss a ball … I just did all the right things. I stayed calm.”
Isner often bent over to rest between points and always took the maximum time on changeovers. The 10-time tour winner went through three sweat-soaked shirts to Kyrgios’ one.
“When the sun was out and there weren’t any clouds, I was really struggling,” Isner said. “It was really hot.
“I hadn’t played under the sun this week at all, so maybe it was a bit of an adjustment for me.”