Nick Kyrgios’ bid to end Australia’s 14-year drought at an ATP 1000 event fell at the final hurdle on Monday (AEST), as he was beaten by Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets.
Kyrgios – who beat the likes of Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer en route to the Cincinnati final – had no answer for Dimitrov, who won 6-3 7-5 in 85 minutes.
The 22-year-old was hoping to become the first Aussie since Lleyton Hewitt in 2003 to win an ATP 1000 tournament – the top tier of events on the men’s tour that aren’t grand slams.
And he entered the final full of confidence after a dazzling run of form that will give him confidence going into next week’s US Open.
The World No.18 squandered a break point at 2-2 in the first set, though, and was made to pay when, after Dimitrov held, the Bulgarian claimed the match’s first break to lead 4-2.
He didn’t look back from there, winning the opener, and despite Kyrgios’ big serving, things remained on serve until 5-5 in the second set.
Kyrgios then produced three double-faults at the worst possible time, allowing Dimitrov to break him, and he held his nerve to serve out the match.
The Aussie hit 15 aces but Dimitrov also served well, winning 85 per cent of points on his first serve.
And, crucially, he was better in the big moments to take home a $A1.2million cheque.
Kyrgios did not go empty handed, either, winning $A590,000 for his efforts.
But he was unhappy with media coverage of his performance, quoting a tweet which included a screenshot of a News Corp website that said “Kyrgios flops in historic title bid”.
Kyrgios posted to his 233,000 followers: “Haha typical Australian media.”
Earlier, he spoke of his pride in reaching the final, less than a month after having to withdraw from an event in Washington due to a troublesome shoulder.
“Looking back from where I was … I would have never thought I would have had my first Masters 1000 event final,” he said.
“So I’m pretty happy with the result. From where I was to here, it’s just been amazing. I had some fun this week.”
Kyrgios added that he was enjoying his tennis again, and that he was “pretty excited” for the upcoming grand slam at Flushing Meadows in New York.
“First round was really a struggle and obviously got through a tough one with [Alexandr] Dolgopolov,” he said.
“Gradually, I just feel back to where I should feel on a tennis court. I wasn’t enjoying it at all, didn’t want to be out there.
“External things were affecting how I was feeling. It really didn’t make sense. Right now, I lost today, but I feel great. I feel great where I’m at right now.
“I’m feeling good. I’m pretty excited for the US Open. I’m just happy, being out there and getting some wins again.”