Photo: Corinne DubreuilAna Konjuh (CRO)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: Australia’s Nick Krygios and Croatia’s Ana Konjuh joined the long list of famous names to have won the Australian Open when they triumphed at Melbourne Park on Saturday, each winning their first Grand Slam singles titles.
Kyrgios saw off fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis 76(4) 63 while Konjuh was too powerful for second seed Katerina Siniakova as she won 63 64, adding the singles title to the doubles crown she won with Carol Zhao of Canada on Friday.
On Australia Day, in cool conditions, third seed Krygios outlasted an injury-hit Kokkinakis to become the fourth Australian winner of the boys’ singles in seven years.
The 17-year-old had to save two set points in the opener but then pulled away in the second to join the likes of Andy Roddick, Janko Tipsarevic and fellow Australian Bernard Tomic as winners of the title.
“Obviously I'm really happy with that performance,” Kyrgios said. “I knew that I had to play some really good tennis. I'm pretty stoked with the last two weeks I've had winning the lead‑up tournament and now the Australian Open. It's been a great start to the year.”
Kyrgios said he hoped to push his senior ranking up to around the 300-mark by the end of the year but said he was determined to add to his grand slam tally.
“I'll definitely play all the junior slams this year,” he said. “Obviously I've done really well at Wimbledon and the US Open. I don't really mind clay either, so hopefully I'm going to try and make a really good stand there this year. I’m really excited for all the Grand Slams.
“Obviously I'm going to take a lot confidence out of this. There’s 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.”
Kokkinakis, at 16 a year younger than Kyrgios, said he was delighted with his performance, especially as an MRI scan on the eve of the final had showed he is suffering from stress fractures in his back.
“I actually did a little bit better than I thought I would,” said Kokkinakis, who said he hoped he would not be out of action for too long. “I didn't think I'd make it through a set.
“It held up and didn't really get that much worse during the play. But it just hurt when I tried to
push off. I was pretty shattered, to be honest. Last night I was pretty upset. I woke up this morning and I was still a little bit annoyed but I thought I'd give it a crack.”
In the girls’ final, third seed Konjuh maintained her recent dominance over Siniakova to win her first Grand Slam singles title, completing a perfect weekend after her doubles victory the previous day.
The 15-year-old, who is already part of Croatia’s Fed Cup team, hit back from 4-1 down in the second set to join Mirjana Lucic and Jelena Kostelic as Croatian champions in Melbourne.
Konjuh beat Siniakova in the semifinal of the Eddie Herr International and the final of the Orange Bowl last December and with Fed Cup captain Iva Majoli looking on, fully deserved her victory.
“It feels really great,” she said. “I won doubles and singles, in my first time here. Just the feeling is incredible. We played twice, so I know her well. I had good tactics and I just used them, I guess.”
Konjuh will now become the junior world No. 1 said she was looking forward to bigger and better things, starting with the Fed Cup, where she will join Donna Vekic, another teenager,
who reached the second round of the women’s event in Melbourne.
“It's another great experience,” she said. “I'm going to get a chance to play with some pro players. I am just happy to be there.”
Majoli said she expected Konjuh to achieve big things in the future, saying: “She did unbelievably at the end of last year and here as well. She’s going to start playing some professional tournaments this year and it’s great. I’m really looking forward to the next couple of years.”
Second seed Siniakova was upset to have missed out but pleased with her week’s overall work.
“She played very well but I think I could play better than I did,” she said. “I was 4-1 up in the second set and played a bad service game and then she started to believe again.
“But it was a great week for me and it was a great experience to play on Rod Laver Arena. I hope I can do it again soon.”