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Tennis: Nishikori records record three-peat at Memphis Open

Kei Nishikori became the first player to win the Memphis Open three times. Photos: Memphis Open.

Kei Nishikori became the first player to win the Memphis Open three times. Photos: Memphis Open.

February 16, 2015: Top seed Kei Nishikori became the first player to win the Memphis Open title for three consecutive years by defeating second seed Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-4 in their first ATP World Tour meeting on Sunday.

 

Nishikori, 25, withstood 12 aces from his six-foot eight-inch South African opponent, but the World No. 5 managed to claim the breaks he needed in the first and second sets.

 

Serving for the match at 5-4, the Japan No. 1 opened up a 40-0 lead before Anderson fought back to deuce. As in his semi-final match against Sam Querrey, Nishikori finally crossed the line on his fourth match point, bagging his first ATP title of the year.

 

Nishikori was rewarded with an electric guitar.

Nishikori was rewarded with a Gibson electric guitar.

“It feels great, of course,” said Nishikori, who has won eight ATP titles in 12 finals. “Today’s match was different to the past couple of matches. I played really solid from the baseline and returned really well.”

 

Nishikori survived the longest match of the week in the semi-finals, beating Querrey 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(5) in two hours, 42 minutes, while his first two matches against qualifiers Ryan Harrison and Austin Krajicek also lasted three sets.

 

It marked just the second time the Japanese has won three straight matches in a tournament from a set down, having first done it on his way to reaching the last eight at the 2012 Australian Open).

 

As a reward for his efforts, Nishikori took home a custom-made Gibson Memphis ES-335 Figured Gloss Semi-Hollowbody electric guitar instead of a traditional trophy, joining enthusiastic doubles winners Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Santiago Gonzalez.

 

“I love it,” Nishikori said of his prize. “I’ve never done guitar before, but I think I might need to start and get some lessons.”

 

Before Nishikori won three straight titles in just his fourth appearance at the American tournament, Tommy Haas, Todd Martin and Jimmy Connors (twice) all won back-to-back titles in Memphis. Connors holds the record of four titles overall.

 

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

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