Open 13 Final Preview Will Nick Kyrgios Win 1st Trophy or Will Marin Cilic Take 15th Title?

Kyrgios Cilic Open 13

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com

The ATP 250 Open 13 tournament serves up an intriguing final tomorrow between two big servers with plenty of game- Marin Cilic (4) versus Nick Kyrgios. The Tennis Review looks at what is at stake, previews the action and predicts the winner.

What’s at stake: The big question of this final is whether or not 20 year old Nick Kyrgios, one of the best players of his generation, is going to win his first ever ATP title.

Marin Cilic has been here and done that- he has 13 of them plus a slam, and won his 1st ATP title all the way back in 2008,-and his last one back in Moscow ’15. A title tomorrow would boost the 2014 US Open champion‘s confidence and send out the message he had found form in 2016, but for Kyrgios, the first player since Federer to make two slam quarter-final as a teenager, a first title would be a break through.

While the ATP 250 category is the lowest of the events Kyrgios enters, the Open 13 is one of just a few indoor ATP events and this season featured a rich field including Stan Wawrinka, Richard Gasquet, Tomas Berdych, and Marin Cilic, and if the unseeded Kyrgios were to win the title, he would have had to beat the final three of that list on the way. That would be quite the first title run and give him some much needed confidence in a professional environment in which young players like Kyrgios are finding it hard to break into the very top.

Who is the favorite: Nick Kyrgios. Despite being the underdog in terms of rankings (Cilic is ranked 12 to Kyrgios’ 41), and head to head (Cilic leads 1-0 but that meeting was all the way back at Roland Garros ’13), Kyrgios is the favorite to win.

The world No.41 is playing his best tennis for a while and putting together impressive stats not just on his service game, but his return game, too.

Against Gasquet in the semis, Kyrgios served 17 aces, and hit 4 in a row to close out the match. (See Kyrgios’ amazing service game in this post). He also got 71% of his first serves in, and won 96% of points behind that delivery (26/27 in total). The 20 year old also won 55% of his second serve deliveries, and did not face a single break point. He put together similar stats versus Berdych- 15 aces,  72 % first serves in, won 94 % of first deliveries, and 58 of second, and did not face any break points.

Kyrgios’ return game versus Berdych was impressive as well- he won 34 % of returns on the Czech’s first serve, 71 on the second and won 3 of 4 break points.

A huge serving game and a winning return one, it is no wonder Gasquet and Berdych only won 10 games between them in their Open 13 matches versus the Australian.

Watch Nick Kyrgios defeat Tomas Berdych in the video below

Cilic can win if: Cilic is not a total underdog here, he is just not in such impressive form against such high caliber opponents. The Croat, one of only seven active slam champs on the tour, and a winner of 13 ATP 250 titles, seven of them on indoor hard, knows how to win these matches, and could raise his level from the get-go or fight back if he gets off to a slow start.

Cilic has also been serving well and playing some impressive power tennis to defeat Paire, Kuznetsov and Hasse, but his return game has not been as strong as Kyrgios’, which could be the deciding factor considering just how well Kyrgios is serving, so he will need to be at his best in that department.

Cilic also has the skills to get the better of Kyrgios from the baseline, if he can keep him back there. While Kyrgios is more explosive on the baseline when in form, Cilic’s deep, penetrating strokes can be just as biting and, once he gets into a rhythm, his point construction and heavy ball striking can do some serious damage to anyone on the tour.

If Cilic serves well, and defends as well as he can, putting pressure on Kyrgios on big points, he could win this match in a close one if it comes down to a few points here or there, points in which Cilic’s superior defensive skills could make the difference. While Kyrgios will be playing first strike tennis which will make it hard for Cilic to get his defensive wheels going, if Cilic can make him play one more ball, it could rattle the vastly more inexperienced youngster in the big moments, which would boost Cilic’s title ambitions no end.

Who will win: Kyrgios. He is in some career best form on a surface that suits his game, he is very hungry, his service game is just too good in these conditions, and his confidence compensates for his inexperience.

If this match goes to tiebreakers, which it likely will, you have to think Kyrgios’ impressive serving and returning form is going to just get the better of Cilic and help him along to a breakthrough first ATP title.

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Christian Deverille

Christian Deverille is a tennis writer with a diploma in Freelance Sports Writing from the London School of Journalism. He loves all things tennis, most of all the Federer and del Potro forehands.
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