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Nishikori Defeats Russell, To Face Karlovic For Title

Memphis, U.S.A.

Nishikori© Ron AngleKei Nishikori will seek to defend his Memphis crown against Ivo Karlovic.

Kei Nishikori leapt to an early lead and never looked back, defeating Michael Russell 6-3, 6-2 for a berth in the final of the U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships. The top seed will seek to defend his Memphis crown in what will be his sixth ATP World Tour final. Nishikori defeated Feliciano Lopez in straight sets last year.

"I think I played the best tennis of the week," said Nishikori.

The Japanese converted on all four of his break opportunities and fired six aces to prevail in 64 minutes over the 35-year-old Russell, who was competing in his third tour-level semi-final. The Detroit native was the oldest Memphis semi-finalist since Jonas Bjorkman advanced to the final four in 2008. He is currently the second-oldest player in the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, one month behind Tommy Haas.

Nishikori improved to 10-2 in 2014 with the win, denying an American finalist in Memphis for a third consecutive year. It will be his fourth title match on U.S. soil, having also emerged victorious in Delray Beach in 2008 and finishing runner-up on the clay of Houston in 2011.

The World No. 16 will have his hands full in the final as he faces big-serving Ivo Karlovic for the third time.

"Ivo's going to be a tough opponent, especially indoors," Nishikori said. "You don't get many returns and it's not easy."

A day after surviving a two and a half hour battle with home favourite Jack Sock, the 6’11” 34 year old cruised into the Memphis final after semi-final opponent Yen-hsun Lu retired with a neck injury. Karlovic was leading 6-1 when the Taiwanese pulled out.

It will be the unseeded Croat’s ninth title bout as he seeks his sixth crown on the ATP World Tour. He most recently hoisted the Bogota trophy in 2013.

In the two previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings between Karlovic and Nishikori, in Davis Cup World Group action in 2012 and the Delray Beach first round last year, Karlovic did not relinquish a set.

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Bryans Seek Revenge in Final
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan will duel with Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen in the doubles final, less than a month after falling to the American-South African duo in straight sets in the third round of the Australian Open.

The Bryans will battle for their 94th team title after defeating Santiago Gonzalez and Scott Lipsky 6-3, 6-7(2), 10-6 in Saturday’s semi-finals. It will be their first final of the year. Meanwhile, Butorac and Klaasen prevailed over Frantisek Cermak and Mikhail Elgin 7-5, 6-4, advancing to their third final as a tandem. The Australian Open runners-up won their first title together in Kuala Lumpur in September.

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