Nishikori Wins 10th Title
Isner snatched the opener with a pair of screaming forehand returns in the 10th game, earning the first break of the match. Nishikori would fight back, opening the second set with an immediate break and consolidating to love for 2-0. Isner received treatment on his right shoulder after the third game and the Japanese refused to relinquish his advantage, sending the final encounter to a one-set sprint.
In the third, Nishikori did not let his foot off the gas, grabbing a break in the third game and holding serve to the finish line.
"I'm very happy to win after losing the first set," said Nishikori, who prevailed in one hour and 55 minutes. "I came back really well so I'm very happy to win today.
"I fought through (after losing the first set for the third time this week). In the first match I was down 7-6 and came back. It's not easy but mentally I tried to fight every time and I'm happy to win in the final today."
The World No. 5 has been a dominant force in deciding sets, now owning a 13-3 record this year when going the distance. He has won 34 of his last 40 such matches. Nishikori, who was appearing in his 15th ATP World Tour final, captured his 10th title.
Three of the Japanese's last four titles have come at the ATP World Tour 500 level, winning on the clay of Barcelona this year after hoisting the trophy on home soil last October in Tokyo. Nishikori earns $343,000 and 500 Emirates ATP Rankings points.
Isner was eyeing his 11th tour-level title and second in as many weeks after clinching his third consecutive BB&T Atlanta Open crown. He owns a 23-8 record in Washington, D.C., including runs to the final in both 2007 (l. to Roddick) and 2013 (l. to Del Potro).
The big-serving 30 year old claimed their lone previous encounter on the hard courts of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Miami earlier this year. He takes home $154,620 and 300 Emirates ATP Rankings points.
"I didn't make enough inroads on his first serve," said Isner. "If you put a decent amount of first serves in the court, he's arguably the best in the best in the world from the baseline. It's tough. I thought he served better in the second and third sets. He's a great player and a great champion.
"Getting to the final of an event like this three times is something to be proud of."