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Tennis: Nishikori gains “a lot of confidence” from Barcelona defence

Pablo Andujar and Kei Nishikori at the Barcelona Open trophy presentation. Photo: AFP.

Pablo Andujar and Kei Nishikori spray sparkling wine at the Barcelona Open trophy presentation. Photo: AFP.

April 27, 2015: World No. 5 Kei Nishikori completed his second successful title defence of the season on Sunday by defeating home hope Pablo Andujar 6-4, 6-4 to retain the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona, ATPWorldTour.com reported.

 

Nishikori, who earned a three-peat at the Memphis Open earlier in the year, joined former World No. 1s Rafael Nadal, Thomas Muster, Mats Wilander, Ivan Lendl and Ilie Nastase, along with Andres Gomez, as players to retain the Barcelona crown in the Open Era.

 

After exchanging breaks to open the match, both players remained on serve until the 10th game when Nishikori pounced on an opportunity to claim the opening set. The top seed opened the court with a slew of blistering groundstrokes to grab the decisive break.

 

However, Andujar broke immediately to open the second set after drawing an error behind a rifled forehand at Nishikori’s feet. The World No. 42 pressed for an insurance break two games later, but his Japanese opponent dug deep and would not be denied, levelling the set at 4-4 with a break back in the eighth game and breaking again to seal the win after one hour and 35 minutes.

 

“I’m really happy I’m able to defend the title,” Nishikori said. “I think the second set was extremely tough and I don’t really know how I won it to be honest. Pablo was very aggressive. He kept moving the ball and made me run up and down all the time. I also tried to be aggressive and I think that’s why I won the important points, but I’d say he played better than me.

 

“I knew Pablo was a great player. I watched yesterday’s match so I knew it wouldn’t be easy to beat him. It wasn’t my best match, I wasn’t at 100 per cent, but I think it’s important I won in two sets.

 

“I think this victory on clay and in such a difficult tournament gives me a lot of confidence to face the upcoming competitions. It’s just an amazing feeling to win a title. I have to come back to Barcelona.”

 

With Shakira and boyfriend FC Barcelona defender Gerard Pique in attendance, the World No. 5 claimed his ninth ATP World Tour trophy overall, improving to a dominant 21-1 when competing as the top seed.

 

Andujar, who falls to 3-4 in tour-level finals, was bidding to become the 12th different Spaniard to emerge with the Trofeo Conde de Godó crown. Prior to Nishikori’s title run in 2014, the tournament had boasted a home grown champion for 11 consecutive years.

 

“It was a great, high-quality final,” Andujar said. “We were both playing well. I played better in the second set and I felt I deserved something more, but what happened was I let some opportunities pass. I believe that I could have won but here we are. I feel I played my best tennis this week.”

 

Source: ATP (www.atpworldtour.com); Editing by SportAsia

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