CINCINNATI: Bulgaria's 11th-ranked Grigor Dimitrov captured his seventh career ATP title and third of the year on Sunday (Aug 20), defeating Australia's Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 7-5 to win the Cincinnati Masters.
Dimitrov never dropped a set in taking the top prize of $954,225 and the biggest title of his career, a perfect stepping stone into the US Open 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.
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 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.
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 give the European a 6-5 edge.
Dimitrov then held for the title, clinching the trophy when Kyrgios netted a forehand after 85 minutes.
Dimitrov, on his hottest run since starting the season 16-1, added to a 2017 trophy haul that also includes Brisbane and Sofia.
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.
Kyrgios, 22, would have been Cincinnati's first unseeded champion in the Open Era (since 1967) and the first in a Masters Series event since David Nalbandian in 2007 at Paris.
At 23rd in the world, the Aussie would have been the lowest-ranked Cincinnati champion since 49th-ranked Tom Gorman in 1975 and lowest Masters Series champion since number 26 Ivan Ljubicic won in 2010 at Indian Wells.