Japan’s number 1 male tennis player Kei Nishikori successfully defended his U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships when he defeated Croatian Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 7-6 (0) on Sunday in Memphis, Tennessee. This was the world number 16’s fourth career championship and second title this year, after winning the Kooyong Classic, a tune-up to the Australian Open, earlier this year.
His win in Memphis is his first ever successful title defense and has earned him 250 points for the ATP Tour and $103,100 in prize money. “I had a great memory last year playing great, and today was perfect,” he said after winning the title. He felt that he started well, unlike in previous tournaments where he usually has a slow start, but he said that “today was different.” He was actually a wild card entry despite winning last year and became the first back-to-back winner since Germany’s Tomas Haas who did it last 2006 and 2007.
His opponent Karlovic came into the finals without having his serve broken for 42 consecutive games. That came to an end when Nishikori broke him in the first set in just the third game of the match. From then on, the precision of his shots was rarely challenged until the eighth game when he had to fight off two break points himself. But it took him just 40 minutes to win the set on his fourth set point. The second set went to a tie-breaker after both players held their serve but Japanese dominated it and Karlovic was unable to score a single point in the decider. Nishikori won it 6-0 with a forehand in the corner that caused the Croatian to hit a return that went long.
[ via AP ]
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