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Nishikori Retains Memphis Trophy

Memphis, U.S.A.

Nishikori© Ron AngleKei Nishikori defended his Memphis title with a straight-sets victory over Ivo Karlovic on Sunday.

Kei Nishikori toppled Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 7-6(0) to successfully defend his U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships title on Sunday.

Nishikori has set Memphis ablaze in his two most recent trips, dropping just one set en route to consecutive titles. The Japanese became the first back-to-back winner in Memphis since Tommy Haas retained his 2006 crown.

"It's amazing to defend a title for the first time, especially here," Nishikori said. "I had a great memory from last year and I'm playing great."

It was Nishikori’s fourth ATP World Tour title in his sixth career final and first championship working under the tutelage of both Dante Bottini and 34-time tour-level titlist Michael Chang. The 24 year old improved to 11-2 in 2014.

Nishikori did well to neutralise Karlovic’s powerful serve, which had guided the 6’11” Croat to 42 straight service holds in his four matches leading to the final.

The top seed secured an early break in the third game of the match and withstood 20 aces from his 34-year-old opponent to prevail in 90 minutes. He saved both break points faced and ran away with the second set tie-break without dropping a point. Nishikori pressed for a decisive break earlier in the set, but was denied on all seven opportunities. He clinched the victory on his first match point when a Karlovic return sailed long. 

"He's really fast," Karlovic said. "He hits winners from any position on the court. That's his game. He returned really well."

Nishikori registered his first win over Karlovic in three FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings. He failed to win a set their Davis Cup World Group encounter in 2012 and the Delray Beach first round last year.

Karlovic was making his ninth appearance in an ATP World Tour final, bidding for his sixth title. He most recently hoisted the Bogota trophy in 2013.

Nishikori takes home $103,100 and 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points and is poised to re-enter the Top 15. Karlovic garners $54,300 and 150 Emirates ATP Rankings points. The Croat will rise 24 spots to No. 56, his highest ranking in two years.

"I get a lot of confidence from keeping my ranking in the Top 20," said Nishikori. "It's going to take some time to get to Top 10, Top 5, but I think I'm getting close."

"It was a good week for me," added Karlovic. "I'm really happy with the way I played. I hope I will continue like this and by the end of the year get into the Top 40."

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