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With his second title of the year in his pocket, Nick Kyrgios continued to show that he’s really good at hard-court tennis.
Like, really good.
In fact, all six of his career singles titles have come on the surface, which puts him among some exclusive company: Among the ATP’s Top 30, the only other players that have won their first six titles on hard courts are No. 10 Kevin Anderson and No. 19 Milos Raonic.
For Kyrgios, capturing the Washington, D.C., tournament offered a glimpse of just how dangerous he can be leading up to—and perhaps past—the US Open. Over the course of the week, he was dominant at times and willing to battle back from the brink in others on a surface that rewards every aspect of his game: from booming serves to overpowering groundstrokes to his feathery touch. (And, of course, his preponderance for trick shots.)
It’s his third ATP 500-level title, too, following up on Acapulco this year, where he beat four Top-10-caliber players in Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, John Isner and Alexander Zverev—who have 44 career hard-court championships between them—and Tokyo in 2016.
That was his third title of the season—and of his career—following Marseille indoors, when he topped 2014 US Open champ Marin Cilic in the final, and Atlanta, where he knocked out Isner for the win.
He was denied any first-place hardware in 2017, but did reach his first ATP Masters 1000 final over the summer in Cincinnati, where he fell to Grigor Dimitrov. The Australian managed to delight the home crowd at the beginning of 2018, when he won his fourth title in Brisbane.
It’s hard to peg anyone as a specialist of late with the surfaces playing more uniform, and like Anderson and Raonic, Kyrgios is no exception: After all, his first final came on clay in Estoril in 2015, nearly a year after his Grand Slam breakthrough at Wimbledon, where he advanced to the quarterfinals in his debut appearance.
Surprisingly, he hasn’t done well in New York for the last major of the year, the US Open. His best results are a trio of third-round showings, with the most recent one coming last year.
Provided his health and attitude hold up, he’ll be on the short list of contenders, solidifying his status as a hard-court standout.
Follow Van on Twitter: @Van_Sias