Memphis: Nishikori makes it four in a row

Published by AP

Kei Nishikori celebrates his victory at the ATP Memphis Open; Getty Images

Kei Nishikori of Japan won his fourth straight Memphis Open title on Sunday, beating American teenager Taylor Fritz 6-4 6-4.

Nishikori joined Jimmy Connors as the only four-time winners of the event and became only the fourth active player to win an event four times, joining Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Ranked No.7 in the world, Nishikori won his 11th career title and first since Washington last August.

He picked up the $US109,950 ($A154,000) cheque with his 17th straight match win in Memphis. Nishikori hasn’t lost at The Racquet Club in the main draw since the first round in 2009.

“I was little bit nervous today,” Nishikori said. “I tried to get another tactic again to make him work. And yeah, happy to win today.”

Nishikori improved to 9-2 this year.

The 18-year-old Fritz already was the youngest American since Michael Chang won Wembley in 1989 at the age of 17 to reach an ATP Tour final and was trying to join Chang as a winner in just his third career ATP event.

An American teen hadn’t reached an ATP final since Andy Roddick in 2002 in Montreal, and a teen hadn’t won on tour since Marin Cilic in New Haven in 2008.

Nishikori and Fritz had never met on tour before, but they practised against each other in recent months.

At 26 and a winner of 54 matches each of the past two years, Nishikori used his experience and speed to finish off Fritz in an hour, 19 minutes.

Fritz served up nine aces with his big serve, but Nishikori was much more effective winning 31 of 38 points on his first serve.

Fritz came into the year just hoping to crack the top 100. He will rank around No.103 on Monday, a big jump from 937 a year ago.

“I definitely didn’t expect to get to the finals so quickly starting on the ATP level, but it’s a great accomplishment to get here,” Fritz said.

“I’m really happy despite losing the finals because I had a great week and I have to be happy with the result. So I have a lot of confidence moving forward, and I hope I can keep these kind of results going.”

Nishikori celebrated with a fist pump after finishing off his title with a forehand winner, joining Connors who won the event in 1978-79 and 1983-84.

“It’s going to be crazy if I stop coming here,” Nishikori said.

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