PARIS (Reuters) - Australian Nick Kyrgios, widely fancied to be the next superstar of world tennis, demonstrated just why as he claimed his first ATP title in the Marseille Open by beating Croatian Marin Cilic 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) on Sunday.
The promising 20-year-old with the brash attitude, big game and outlandish talent hammered down 17 aces to earn the scalp of former US Open champion Cilic in the final.
It concluded a dramatic breakthrough week for Kyrgios, who had previously garnered almost as many headlines for his on-court misbehaviour as his obvious rare ability.
The man from Canberra beat two top-10 ranked players in Richard Gasquet and Tomas Berdych plus the 12th-ranked Cilic, and did not lose a set in the tournament, his serve being unbroken in 47 games.
Kyrgios, whose ranking of 41 will shoot up, was playing in his second ATP final after finishing runner-up in Estoril last year but his maiden victory seems sure to be the first of many.
He is the first player under the age of 21 to down top 10 players in consecutive matches since Juan Martin del Potro beat Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to lift the 2009 US Open crown.
"I played my first final last year and was looking for my first title," a delighted Kyrgios told the ATP website. "But I didn't really expect to win this title this week after having a couple of weeks off. But from the first round I started playing really well and just gained confidence as I kept winning matches."
Kyrgios' elation in his second tournament of the season was a far cry from some of last year's negative headlines. In August, the Australian received a suspended 28-day ban and a US$25,000 (S$35,000) fine for a vulgar comment he made towards Stanislas Wawrinka at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.
Two months later, he was fined again for a verbal outburst during his first-round match at the Shanghai Masters. He began the year in eyebrow-raising fashion by answering his phone on court before a mixed doubles game at the Australian Open.