WASHINGTON: Japan’s seventh-ranked Kei Nishikori captured his fourth consecutive ATP Memphis Open title on Sunday (Monday in Manila) by defeating 18-year-old US wildcard Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-4.
Top seed Nishikori won his 11th career ATP crown by taking his 17th consecutive Memphis match victory.
He joins Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal as the only active players to have won the same event four years in a row.
“It has been amazing,” Nishikori said as he accepted the guitar-shaped champion’s trophy. “It was really fun on the court. This is something I’ve never done before, something new. I’m very happy for that.”
Fritz, in only his third tour-level event, was the youngest American in an ATP final since a 17-year-old Michael Chang won at Wembley in 1989.
“It was a great week for me,” Fritz said. “Winning the tournament four times, that’s incredible. He was too tough for me today.”
Fritz smashed a backhand winner down the line to break Nishikori’s first service game of the match — his lone break of the contest — and then held at love himself for a 3-0 edge. But the Asian ace bounced back by winning six of the next seven games.
A double fault cost Fritz a break in the fifth game and he struggled to hold in the seventh, denying Nishikori break points on two aces and a service winner. Nishikori broke in the ninth game on a forehand winner and held at love to claim the first set after 36 minutes.
In the second set, Nishikori broke on a forehand winner for a 3-2 lead and forced Fritz to save two match points in the ninth game before holding in the 10th on a forehand winner to end it after 79 minutes.
After starting the week 1-2 in ATP play, Fritz will jump from 145th to 103rd in the world rankings.
“I’m sure he has got a bright future and is going to be among the top players very soon,” Nishikori said of Fritz.
Fritz, last year’s US Open junior champion, made his ATP debut last year at Nottingham, beating Carreno Busta before a second-round exit. He lost to compatriot Jack Sock in five sets in the first round of last month’s Australian Open.