Kyrgios Ace Barrage Leads To Career First

Aussie comes through against Dimitrov for the first time

Maybe slow starts are a positive omen for Aussie Nick Kyrgios. For the third consecutive match, the third seed fell behind a set on Saturday evening at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp.

But for the third consecutive match, Kyrgios found a way to come back, this time against defending champion Grigor Dimitrov to pick up his first win against the Bulgarian and advance to Sunday's final, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.

"I hadn't beaten him before. Going into today, I knew that I was going to do something a little different. I was going to kind of just not give him too much rhythm. Come in a lot, be super aggressive off my returns. And obviously try and just serve, just serve pretty much anywhere and just play aggressive," Kyrgios said. "He played a pretty solid first set. I played a pretty loose game to get broken. And then, pretty much from then on, I felt pretty in control of the match."

The final will be Kyrgios' first on home soil and his seventh overall (3-3). Kyrgios is also the first Aussie to reach the Brisbane final since former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt in 2014 (d. Federer).

Kyrgios will face American Ryan Harrison, who beat Kyrgios' countryman Alex de Minaur 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 to reach his third ATP World Tour title match (2017 Memphis, 2017 Atlanta).

"He's got a great serve. That's probably his strength, I think. I played him a couple times now, and I definitely felt that was his best weapon," Kyrgios said. "He's a good mover as well. I played him on clay last year, and I don't think that was either of our best surfaces. I played him on hard court as well. So I know what he's going to bring, but at the same time it's going to be a tough match."

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Kyrgios leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-0, and Harrison has yet to take a set off the Aussie.

“I know that he's a dangerous opponent. He can serve very, very well and he's obviously won a lot of matches here,” Kyrgios said on court.

The 22-year-old Canberra native trailed Dimitrov in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 0-2, including a loss in last year's Western & Southern Open final in Cincinnati, and the Bulgarian was riding a seven-match win streak heading into the Brisbane semi-final. Dimitrov started on a roll as well, breaking Kyrgios once and not facing a break point in the first set to gain the lead.

But Kyrgios swung more freely in the second set and mixed up his play against Dimitrov. The third-seeded Kyrgios exchanged rapid-fire points with Dimitrov and came out the victor more often than not. He also gave Dimitrov different return looks, and the strategy seemed to throw the World No. 3 off as Kyrgios broke twice in the second set to even the match in 29 minutes.

“I knew that I had to do something a little bit differently today. I couldn't give him too much rhythm,” Kyrgios said.

The third set followed a similar strategy. Kyrgios dominated on serve – he finished with 19 aces and won 82 per cent of his first-serve points – and broke in the seventh game before serving out the match.

"Sometimes when there's no way out, you try to change up the game and break the rhythm of a player. And today just everything, whatever I thought he tried, it was just great," Dimitrov said. "He deserved to win today."

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