(February 24, 2013) -- Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese player to win the U.S. National Indoor Championships with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Feliciano Lopez on Sunday.
The victory gives Nishikori his third career title, and second 500-level title in less than five months. The 23-year-old is slated to climb within one spot of his career-high ranking to No. 16 on Monday.
Having entered the final without the loss of a set, Nishikori picked up right where he left off in Sunday’s final. He notched two of his four breaks of serve on the day in the first five games and closed the opening set without facing any trouble from Lopez.
In the second set the Japanese No. 1 needed his entire shotmaking prowess to earn another break against the hard-serving Spaniard in the first game. Nishikori ripped a backhand winner past an onrushing Lopez to earn his first break point, but Lopez, who led the tournament with 38 aces, countered with some inspired shotmaking of his own.
But try as he may in his bid to become the oldest title winner on the ATP tour this year, the 31-year-old didn’t have any answer for shots like Nishikori’s scorched backhand winner, which whizzed by Lopez to give Nishikori the initial break of serve in set two.
Lopez pressed on and nearly overcame Nishikori’s early second-set lead when he earned triple break point in the very next game, but once again a flurry of decisive, well-struck baseline blows by the fifth seed put the kibosh on the Lopez rally.
After a love hold gave Nishikori a 5-3 lead he went for the jugular against the Lopez serve, clicking on his second match point attempt for the victory in one hour and seven minutes.
Nishikori, who broke in 19 of his 43 return games in Memphis, moves to 11-2 on the year, and avenges a loss suffered in his only previous career meeting with Lopez in 2011 in Barcelona.
Despite the loss Lopez should move comfortably inside the top 40 with his final run.
Bryan Brothers Defeat Sock and Blake for Doubles Title
Bob and Mike Bryan held court swiftly in the doubles final with a convincing 6-1, 6-2 victory over Jack Sock and James Blake. The Bryans were not broken and connected on four of ten break points against the upset-minded American pairing.
The Bryans title count as a team reaches 85 with the win.
(Photo Credit: ATP Memphis)