Nishikori ends 3-year title drought


Kei Nishikori holds up the trophy after defeating Daniil Medvedev in the men’s final at the Brisbane International on Sunday in Brisbane, Australia.

AFP BRISBANE, Australia (AFP-Jiji) — Japanese star Kei Nishikori claimed his first title since 2016 when he downed Russia’s Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in the final of the Brisbane International on Sunday.

Nishikori had not won a tournament since Memphis in 2016, and was hampered by a wrist injury the following year which forced a break from the 2018 tour.

He was runner-up in Brisbane in 2017 but went one better this year in a superb final.

Nishikori dominated his Russian rival throughout, despite a slight hiccup when one poor service game cost him the second set.

The second seed started slowly and went down 0-3 to the Russian. But he recovered to break back and then seized the advantage at 3-3 when he broke Medvedev again, taking the first set in 42 minutes.

Nishikori was all over the Russian in the second set, his powerful and well-directed groundstrokes forcing Medvedev into errors.

Medvedev held on against Nishikori’s multiple chances to break at 2-2 and 3-3 and took advantage of his opponent’s poor service game to break ahead.

“I felt like in the second set I was a little bit, like waiting too much and I couldn’t convert all the chances I had,” the Russian said.

“And he did really well the last game, I mean the 4-3 game. He took the risk and he did well and credit to him for second set.

“I had so many chances and I thought I could win in two sets.”

Any thought Medvedev would take the momentum into the decider proved wrong as Nishikori stormed to a 5-1 lead, eventually wrapping up the final in just over two hours.

“I realized I had to do something to win this match and I think I made a change really well,” he said.

“I think I returned well — that was the biggest key, I think. I was able to return very deep and I think I put him under pressure.”

Nishikori said he was pleased with his form heading into the Australian Open, where he has never progressed further than the quarterfinals.

“The main goal is to do well in Australian Open, but I’m really happy that I’ve been playing really well this week,” he said.

Earlier in the women’s final, Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic used all her big match experience as she came from a set down to overhaul Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko.

The unseeded Tsurenko looked headed for the biggest win of her career when serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set, only for Pliskova to come storming back to win 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 and claim her second Brisbane title and 12th overall of her career.

“I just felt somehow tired from the beginning of the day,” the fifth-seeded Pliskova said. “I was missing my shots, just not feeling the timing perfectly. I was sleeping bad. So everything was somehow going the other way.”Speech

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