Kei Nishikori beats John Isner for his maiden Citi Open title
Kei Nishikori began his hard court season with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over John Isner in the Citi Open final.
Isner, who saved three match points in his semifinal against Steve Johnson served brilliantly in the opening set on Sunday. He got in 81% of his first serves in and won 79% of service points that included six aces. The American got an important break in the tenth game of the first set when he hit two consecutive forehand winners with Nishikori trailing 15-30.
He got the crowd going after leading by a set to love.
The World No. 5 struck right back in the first game of the second set when Isner sent his forehand wide on break point. Nishikori was frugal on his serve winning 75% points without giving Isner any break point chances.
The second seed broke Isner in the third game of the decider when he hit a return winner off American’s second serve. It was smooth sailing thereafter for the Japanese as he held his serve in the tenth game to win his 10th ATP title.
This is Nishikori’s third title of the year after wins in Memphis and Barcelona. Isner succumbed to his third defeat in Washington final after losses against Andy Roddick (2007) and Juan Martin del Potro (2013).
Isner, who won the Atlanta Open last week will climb to No. 12 in the ATP rankings. Nishikori on the other hand will rise to No. 4 in the world.
The head-to-head between Isner and Nishikori is now tied at 1-1. Isner had beaten Nishikori 6-4, 6-3 at the Miami Open earlier this year.
“I think I returned really well today,” Nishikori told Washington Post. “In Miami’s match, I was just playing the ball and waiting for his mistakes, but today I was a little different.”
Isner acknowledged that he should have have got more out of Nishikori’s first serve in the final two sets.
“I just didn’t make enough inroads on his first serves, which a lot of times I struggle with,” Isner told Washington Post.“And from there, I feel like he’s basically the best in the world from the baseline. He’s a great player and a great champion.”
In the men’s doubles final, Bob and Mike Bryan beat Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Milo 6-4, 6-2. The Bryans broke their opponents’ serve thrice and dropped just five points on their first serve to emerge triumphant against the French Open champions.