Nishikori Wins Third Consecutive Memphis Title
Japan's No. 1 player continues to hit the high notes in Memphis.
Kei Nishikori became the first player to win the Memphis title in three consecutive years since the tournament’s inception in 1975, defeating No. 2 seed Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-4 in their first ATP World Tour meeting on Sunday.
Nishikori withstood 12 aces from his 6'8" South African opponent, claiming the breaks he needed in the first and second sets. Serving for the match at 5-4, the Japanese star created a 40-love lead before Anderson fought back to deuce. As in his semi-final match against Sam Querrey, Nishikori clinched his first title of 2015 on his fourth match point.
The World No. 5 enjoyed a straightforward win in the Memphis Open final, but the same could not be said for his previous three matches. In the semi-finals, Nishikori defeated Querrey 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(5) in the longest match of the week (two hours, 42 minutes). His first two matches against qualifiers Ryan Harrison and Austin Krajicek also lasted three sets, marking just the second time he has won three straight matches in a tournament from a set down (’12 Australian Open).
"It feels great, of course," he said. "Today’s match was much different than [the past] couple of matches. I played really solid from the baseline and returned really well."
Tommy Haas, Todd Martin and Jimmy Connors all took home Memphis titles two years in a row (Connors did it twice!), but Nishikori managed to rack up three championships in just his fourth appearance at the American tournament.
As a reward for his efforts, the 25 year old will take home a custom-made Gibson Memphis ES-335 Figured Gloss Semi-Hollowbody electric guitar instead of a traditional trophy, joining enthusiastic doubles winners Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Santiago Gonzalez.
"I love it!" Nishikori said of his prize. "I’ve never done guitar before, but I think I might need to start and get some lessons."
Anderson will take the positives from his performance before heading to Delray Beach next week.
"Being in that stage a few times now in the finals, obviously you want to take it a little bit further, but it wasn’t there," he said. "I have a couple of other tournaments coming up now, so I can’t afford to dwell on this."