Washington - Japan's seventh-ranked Kei
Nishikori captured his fourth consecutive ATP Memphis Open title on Sunday by
defeating 18-year-old US wildcard Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-4.
Top seed Nishikori won his 11th career ATP
crown by taking his 17th consecutive Memphis match victory.
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."
Fritz, in only his third tour-level event,
was the youngest American in an ATP final since a 17-year-old Michael Chang won
at Wembley in 1989.
"It was a great week for me,"
Fritz said. "Winning the tournament four times, that's incredible. He was
too tough for me today."
Fritz smashed a backhand winner down the
line to break Nishikori's first service game of the match - his lone break of
the contest - and then held at love himself for a 3-0 edge. But the Asian ace
bounced back by winning six of the next seven games.
A double fault cost Fritz a break in the
fifth game and he struggled to hold in the seventh, denying Nishikori break
points on two aces and a service winner. Nishikori broke in the ninth game on a
forehand winner and held at love to claim the first set after 36 minutes.
In the second set, Nishikori broke on a
forehand winner for a 3-2 lead and forced Fritz to save two match points in the
ninth game before holding in the 10th on a forehand winner to end it after 79
After starting the week 1-2 in ATP play,
Fritz will jump from 145th to 103rd in the world rankings.
"I'm sure he has got a bright future
and is going to be among the top players very soon," Nishikori said of
Fritz, last year's US Open junior champion,
made his ATP debut last year at Nottingham, beating Carreno Busta before a
second-round exit. He lost to compatriot Jack Sock in five sets in the first
round of last month's Australian Open.