Nishikori cuts short US teen Fritz's big run

Kei Nishikori strumming the trophy, after winning the Memphis Open; (above) a gleeful Martin Klizan punching the air after beating Gael Monfils in the Rotterdam World Tennis final; Roberta Vinci kissing the trophy after her triumph in the in the inau
Kei Nishikori strumming the trophy, after winning the Memphis Open; (above) a gleeful Martin Klizan punching the air after beating Gael Monfils in the Rotterdam World Tennis final; Roberta Vinci kissing the trophy after her triumph in the in the inaugural WTA St Petersburg tournament. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
Kei Nishikori strumming the trophy, after winning the Memphis Open; a gleeful Martin Klizan punching the air after beating Gael Monfils in the Rotterdam World Tennis final; (above) Roberta Vinci kissing the trophy after her triumph in the in the inau
Kei Nishikori strumming the trophy, after winning the Memphis Open; a gleeful Martin Klizan punching the air after beating Gael Monfils in the Rotterdam World Tennis final; (above) Roberta Vinci kissing the trophy after her triumph in the in the inaugural WTA St Petersburg tournament.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Japanese denies wild card chance to become 2nd youngest American to win an ATP event

MEMPHIS • American wild card Taylor Fritz fell just short of a fairy-tale title on Sunday, but Martin Klizan and Roberta Vinci completed dream runs at Rotterdam and St Petersburg respectively.

Japan's Kei Nishikori captured his fourth consecutive ATP Memphis Open title by defeating 18-year-old Fritz 6-4, 6-4.

The teenager went into the tennis match at only his third Tour-level event as the youngest American in an ATP final since a 17-year-old Michael Chang won at Wembley in 1989.

But top seed and world No. 7 Nishikori was just too good as he won his 11th career ATP crown. He joins Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal as the only active players to have won the same event four years in a row.

"It has been amazing," Nishikori said as he accepted the guitar-shaped champion's trophy.

"It was really fun on the court. This is something I've never done before, something new. I'm very happy for that."


(Above) Kei Nishikori strumming the trophy, after winning the Memphis Open; a gleeful Martin Klizan punching the air after beating Gael Monfils in the Rotterdam World Tennis final; Roberta Vinci kissing the trophy after her triumph in the in the inaugural WTA St Petersburg tournament. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

For Fritz, there was much to be proud of too. After starting the week with a 1-2 win-loss record in ATP play, he will jump from 145th to 103rd in the world rankings.

"It was a great week for me," said the teenager, last year's US Open junior champion. "He was too tough for me today."

At the Rotterdam World Tennis final, however, Klizan proved that every underdog can have his day. The world No. 43 from Slovakia pulled out another come-from-behind showpiece to upset Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-7 (1-7), 6-3, 6-1.

He came into the final having saved eight match points in his previous clashes against Roberto Bautista Agut and Nicolas Mahut, and emerged as the first Slovak to win the Dutch event.

"This is the best result of my career by far. I hope I can be an inspiration to young Slovak players," he said. "I still cannot believe this has happened, it was my dream to be on the board of tournament winners.

"Every day I was fighting, I had three-hour matches every time. I did all that I could, I saved so many match points, I just can't believe it has happened."

World No. 18 Monfils, whose last title was two years ago in Montpellier, looked to be in a winning position as he claimed the opening set in a tie-breaker after an hour on court. But, after his multiple fightbacks this week, his inspired Slovak opponent was not to be denied at the final hurdle.

Italian Roberta Vinci, best known for halting Serena Williams' calendar Grand Slam bid last year, also claimed the biggest title of her career on Sunday.

She won the inaugural WTA St Petersburg tournament by beating top-seeded Belinda Bencic 6-4, 6-3 in the final. It was the 32-year-old's 10th WTA singles title and first since 2013.

"And the winner is... (me)!!!!??????" tweeted Vinci, before thanking everyone for their messages.

She will rise to No. 12 in the world rankings and has not ruled out delaying her retirement a little longer, after previously deciding to hang up her racket after this season.

Asked if she planned to play on for a few years, she said: "No, two, three years, no. One more, but maybe. Why not?"

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2016, with the headline 'Nishikori cuts short u.S. Teen fritz's big run'. Print Edition | Subscribe