Brisbane final preview and prediction: Kyrgios vs. Harrison

Nick Kyrgios and Ryan Harrison will be going head-to-head for the third time in their careers when they battle for the Brisbane International title on Sunday night. Kyrgios has won both of their previous encounters; 7-5, 6-2 at the 2016 Japan Open and 6-3, 6-3 on the clay courts of Madrid last spring.

There will be no love lost between these two combustible characters before, during, or after the final. A relative feud stemmed from the well-documented Montreal incident involving Kyrgios and Stan Wawrinka in 2015. At the Cincinnati Masters one week later, Harrison got into a heated argument with another young Australian–Thanasi Kokkinakis–that led the American to say, “Wawrinka should’ve decked Kyrgios and I should deck that kid.”

After beating No. 1 seed and defending champion Grigor Dimitrov 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in Saturday’s semifinals, Kyrgios was asked about his “history” with Harrison and if that adds “anything extra” to the matchup. “I don’t think so,” the 22-year-old answered. “Matches haven’t been very close, so I don’t really know why there’s much history there.”

Close, however, is exactly the kind of match each man has been accustomed to this week in Brisbane. In fact, in a combined six completed matches, they have played six three-setters (only Harrison’s quarterfinal retirement from Denis Istomin ended prior to a third set). Kyrgios has advanced by beating Matthew Ebden (6-7(3), 7-6(5), 6-2), Alexandr Dolgopolov (1-6, 6-3, 6-4), and Dimitrov. Harrison has picked up three-set victories over Leonardo Mayer (6-4, 3-6, 6-2), Yannick Hanfmann (6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2), and Alex de Minaur (4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4).

“He obviously has a polarizing serve,” the world No. 47 said of Kyrgios. “It’s a very difficult serve to read. He can hit all the spots really well. He gives you some cheap holds where he might not necessarily be all in it for a second, but then he has some ability to produce a really high level. It’s going to be important that I take every single step of the way as very, very important. Because when you play with somebody who has that sort of ability, then a break at 0-1 in the first set can be just as damaging as 4-5, because at times he can take the racket out of your hand.”

That is exactly what Kyrgios has done to Harrison in the past, and he has done it at times this week despite patches of inconsistency. The world No. 21 has blasted 50 aces through three matches, and against a stellar defender and returner in Dimitrov he cracked 19 aces compared to only two double-faults while winning 82 percent of his first-serve points.

Kyrgios is bidding for his fourth career ATP title and should be especially motivated after winning none in 2017 following a trio of titles in 2016. As usual, his power game will likely get the best of Harrison’s defense.

Pick: Kyrgios in 2


4 Comments on Brisbane final preview and prediction: Kyrgios vs. Harrison

    • Under rooting, I’d like to pick neither. I think NK will win unless something causes him to fall apart. Harrison might take a set.

  1. NK in two, slightly rooting for Nick but I would be fine with either winning. Just glad to see both playing well heading into Melbourne!!

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