Nishikori Defeats Karlovic to Repeat at Memphis

by John on February 16, 2014

Kei Nishikori (1)

Defending champion and top seed Kei Nishikori defeated big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 7-6 (0) in the final of the U.S. National Indoor Championships Sunday afternoon in Memphis. It was Nishikori’s fourth career title in six final appearances and first under the tutelage of former American standout Michael Chang, who won the 1989 French Open. Nishikori also won at Delray Beach in 2008 and Tokyo in 2012. The 24-year-old Japanese, ranked No. 16 in the world, improved to 1-2 against Karlovic and 11-2 on the year. Nishikori did a successful job of defusing the 6-foot-11 Karlovic’s serve, which the Croat had held 42 straight times in four matches coming into the final. The Japanese got the only break of the match in the third game of the first set when he hit a backhand past the No. 80-ranked Karlovic on the second break point of the game, taking a 2-1 lead. Nishikori won his first 14 service points in the match and led 4-3, 30-0 in the eighth game before losing a point on serve. He ended up having to save two break points in the game before holding for 5-3. Karlovic pressed Nishikori in the 10th game, but the Japanese eventually converted his fourth set point to take the opener in 40 minutes. Service prevailed in the second set to force a tiebreaker, although Karlovic needed to save two break points in the first game and five in the third. Nishikori ran away with the tie-break without dropping a point, wrapping up the match in 90 minutes. “It’s an amazing feeling,” Nishikori said. “I had never defended a title before.” Nishikori served eight aces and saved both break points he faced. Karlovic had 20 aces and defended eight of nine break points. “He returned really well,” Karlovic said. “I was not hitting as wide as I usually can, but he was really fast. He was returning well, and then he won. He was a little bit better.”

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