August 9, 2015
Japanese superstar Kei Nishikori took his tenth title and third of the year with a fantastic three-set triumph over John Isner in the final in Washington DC.
And after his hard-fought 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory, Nishikori drew extraordinary praise from the American he had conquered.
Generous Isner said: ‘Congratulations to Kei, he is incredible for the sport of tennis, he’s done so much for us, he’s an incredible player and an incredible person. I’ll get you next time though, Kei!’
Nishikori saw this win as revenge for a previous defeat by Isner and further reward for all his hard work since the heartbreak of Wimbledon.
Kei said: ‘It wasn’t easy after Wimbledon, where I got injured, but it’s been a wonderful week and I’m happy to get revenge over John because I lost to him in Miami.
‘It has been an amazing year so far and I’m looking forward to the US Open, having reached the final there last year.’
Nishikori is aware that many Americans have taken him to their hearts and he was a popular winner in Washington, even though it was an American he beat in one hour and fifty-three minutes.
He added: ‘It was a great atmosphere on court, this isn’t my home country but I feel I had a lot of support in the crowd.’
And that is what it is like for Nishikori the world over, as the charismatic star from the Far East captures fresh attention and affection wherever he goes.
Isner battled hard and served well to take the first set, but eventually he succumbed to Nishikori’s own increasingly accurate serve.
Kei didn’t lose on his first serve in the entire second set and emerged with a 91% first serve point success rate for the match as a whole. He made only 13 unforced errors to Isner’s 28. And although Nishikori didn’t hit as many winners as his adversary, he didn’t need to take risks as his stranglehold on the match strengthened.
Some time in the not-too-distant future, tennis will have to start to look beyond Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal for new global heroes. Kei Nishikori most definitely fits the bill.
And that’s why even Isner was singing the new hero’s praises after this impressive comeback victory. Even fellow players know a superstar when they see one.
And what makes Nishikori even more appealing is that he’s a nice guy too.