By Jaclyn Stacey
(January 26, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Nick Kyrgios has been crowned the 2013 Australian Open Junior Boys’ champion after overpowering good friend and fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-6(4) 6-3 in one hour and 31 minutes on Saturday afternoon at Melbourne Park.
“Yeah, obviously I’m really happy with that performance today. I knew that I had to play some really good tennis,” Kyrgios said. “So, yeah, it’s great start on the year.”
The two mixed up their play, hitting largely from the baseline but also willing to try a drop shot and come into the net to volley. Both played a largely aggressive offensive game with big groundstroke shotmaking.
It was a tight contest in the first set with neither player able to gain an advantage. Kokkinakis had several break point opportunities late in the set but Kyrgios was able to effectively shut them down with his big serve. The set culminated in a tie-break situation as neither player was able to get a lead. Kyrgios got the mini-break in the first point of the tie-break and ran with it, closing out the first set 7-6(4).
Kyrgios converted a break point opportunity in the fourth game of the second set to go ahead a set and a break 3-1 against his good friend. Kokkinakis was struggling with a back problem during the match and it looked to be getting to him as time wore on. Kyrgios then picked up his serve in his final game to win the tournament with an ace 7-6(4) 6-3 in the same week he became the ITF world number one junior. He produced 36 winners to Kokkinakis’ 20.
Kyrgios said the key to winning today had been to maintain composure and not get caught in the moment. He explained his thoughts on being down break points and set points in the first set: “I was just trying to stay as composed as I could and take my time. I thought I played the big points
well. I didn’t really get angry at myself leading into that point or anything like that.”
Kyrgios was asked what he will do to ensure he doesn’t fade into oblivion as many former Junior Australian Open champions have done in the past.
“Obviously going to keep working hard, day in, day out. That’s what it’s all about. Keep improving on and of the court. I’m going to try and play a lot more futures and challengers and boost my ATP ranking up as well.”
“Obviously I’m going to take a lot of confidence out of this. Still a long way to go, it’s a long journey, anything can happen, but right now I’m really happy. I’m just going to keep working hard.”
In the girl’s singles final Croatian number three seed Ana Konjuh signalled herself as a future star in women’s tennis after defeating Czech number two seed Katerina Siniakova 6-3 6-4 in just over one hour.
“Well, you know, I feel really great. I won doubles and singles. I’m first time here. Just the feeling is incredible.”
Konjuh also won the girls’ doubles title on Friday with Canadian Carol Zhao to cap off an impressive tournament for the young Croatian. The win in the singles will move Konjuh to the top of the ITF Junior rankings from Monday.
Konjuh says she’s happy to be the world number one but says her focus for 2013 will be to improve her WTA ranking.
“I’m going to play the junior Grand Slams: Roland Garros, Wimbledon, US Open. I’m just going to play 10,000′s, 25′s and 50′s. I just want to go now for WTA ranking.”
Konjuh has also been selected to represent Croatia in Fed Cup for the first time and will play alongside Petra Martic, Donna Vekic and Tereza Mrdeza.
“No, it’s another great experience. I’m going to get a chance to play with some pro players. I just happy to be there.”
Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.