WASHINGTON: Gtting his hard-court game into shape ahead of the U.S. Open, Japan’s Kei Nishikori came back to beat big-serving John Isner, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, on Sunday for his first Citi Open title.
The second-seeded Nishikori, the runner-up at Flushing Meadows last year, weathered 18 aces from the eighth-seeded Isner, a 6-foot-10 American who fell to 0-3 in finals in Washington.
For the third time in five matches, Nishikori dropped the opening set before turning things around to win in three.
It is Nishikori’s 10th career title and third in 2015, when he is 43-9.
Only No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Roger Federer have won more tournaments this season, and only Djokovic and No. 3 Andy Murray have won more matches.
Nishikori will move up from No. 5 to No. 4 in the rankings today, equaling his career best.
He lost serve only once, never facing a single break point over the last two sets. And Nishikori played cleanly, totaling 13 unforced errors, fewer than half of Isner’s 28.
Isner also lost finals in Washington in 2007 against Andy Roddick, and in 2013 against Juan Martin del Potro.
In womens, Sloane Stephens won the first Women’s Tennis Association title of her career, overwhelming Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-1, 6-2, at the Citi Open.
The 22-year-old Stephens, who is based in Florida, has had plenty of success making it into the second week at Grand Slam tournaments, but she never had made it as far as a final anywhere until this weekend.