Sunday, April 21, 2024

Nishikori defends Barcelona title


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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Top-seeded Kei Nishikori successfully defended his title at the Barcelona Open tennis tournament by beating Spaniard Pablo Andujar 6-4, 6-4 in Sunday’s final.

The fifth-ranked Japanese fought back from early breaks in both sets to claim his second clay-court title in as many years at the Real Club de Tenis.

Nishikori finished off Andujar with a final break to win in 1 hour, 34 minutes.

It was his second title of the season and his ninth career title.

“I didn’t look to defend my title, just to play my best,” Nishikori said. “I knew that this was a tough tournament with all the Spanish players. I just tried to play my best and now I am really happy.”

Nishikori hit 23 winners to 19 for Andujar.

“I knew that he had a great backhand down the line too, so I had to move the ball around, and in the last two games I played really well,” Nishikori said. “On match point I just closed my eyes and hit it.”

Despite losing in two sets, Andujar gave Nishikori his toughest test of the tournament a day after upsetting third-seeded David Ferrer.

Andujar led in both sets Sunday but ended up ceding two service games in each.

“I think the difference was that I didn’t take advantage of the chances I had in the second set,” said the 66th-ranked Spaniard, who had won his only previous meeting with Nishikori on clay.


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