Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria celebrates after defeating Nick Kyrgios of Australia to win the Cincinnati Masters
Grigor Dimitrov captured his seventh and biggest career title Sunday, defeating Australia’s Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 7-5 to win the ATP Cincinnati Masters and boost his confidence for the US Open.
The 11th-ranked Bulgarian never dropped a set in taking the top prize of $954,225 and his first Masters title, a perfect stepping stone into the year’s last Grand Slam event that begins a week from Monday.
“In the big picture, it means a lot to me,” Dimitrov said. “I’m pretty confident after that win. This is what I’ve been practicing for. It’s my biggest win so far.
“I’m going to enjoy it for a day or two but then it’s back to the routine and prepare for the US Open.”
In the highest-level ATP final ever contested between two players born in the 1990s, Dimitrov collected his tour-best 24th hardcourt match victory of the year and third title of 2017 after Brisbane and Sofia.
Nick Kyrgios of Australia Grigor returns a shot to Dimitrov of Bulgaria on August 20, 2017
“To have this trophy in my hand, it’s just amazing. Going to the Open, it’s a lot of positivity,” said Dimitrov, on his hottest run since starting the season 16-1.
Kyrgios, who ousted Monday’s new world number one Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals, has not won an ATP title since taking his third last year in Tokyo.
After battling a hip injury and lack of motivation three weeks ago in Washington, Kyrgios was thrilled at the run to his biggest final yet.
“From where I was to here, it’s just amazing,” Kyrgios said. “I just feel the way I should. I just didn’t want to be out there. I lost today but I feel great with where I’m at now.
“I’m pretty excited for the US Open, enjoying getting out there and getting some wins again.”
Rising from that disheartened low point to a Masters final was a shocker, Kyrgios said.
“That’s a very Nick Kyrgios thing to do,” he said. “Crazy. I really don’t know how I did it. It’s a miracle.”
– ‘I was so nervous’ –
Not since Guillermo Canas beat Andy Roddick in 2002 at Toronto had two first-time ATP Masters finalists met for a Masters crown.
“I was so nervous,” Dimitrov said. “I tried to contain myself. It was one of those matches I knew I could beat him but you never know what’s going to come out against you.”
“I could have done a few things better. But nerves were there. At the end of the day I was just going for it.”
Kyrgios, ranked 23rd, squandered a break chance in the fifth game, sending a forehand wide, and Dimitrov broke in the sixth when the Aussie netted a forehand to seize a 4-2 lead, then held twice to take the first set.
“The first set was very important for sure,” Dimitrov said. “I had to find a way to get a few balls back. It came down to a few points and I held my nerve.
“He can generate a lot of power from any position at any time. That’s what kept me on my toes the whole time.”
Kyrgios used an ace and a service winner to save two break points before holding in the seventh game of the second set.
But Kyrgios double faulted twice in three points to hand Dimitrov a break point and then swatted a forehand beyond the baseline to surrender a break and a 6-5 edge.
Dimitrov, 26, then held for the title, clinching the trophy when Kyrgios, 22, netted a forehand after 85 minutes.