Japan’s Kei Nishikori claimed his second consecutive Barcelona Open title on Sunday with a hard-fought 6-4, 6-4 over Spaniard Pablo Andujar.
Andujar had upset Rafael Nadal’s conquerer Fabio Fognini and David Ferrer on his route to the final and made the perfect start by breaking the world number five’s serve in the first game.
However, Nishikori broke straight back and then sealed the set by breaking once more in the 10th game.
The second set followed a similar pattern as Andujar moved into a 4-2 lead, but Nishikori then upped his level to race through the final four games to seal his ninth career title.
“Finally yes, I am the champion, but in the beginning (of the week), I was just playing one match at time with so many tough players and all the Spanish players playing here,” said Nishikori.
“I tried to do my best and I am very happy.
“The second set was very hard and to be honest I don’t know how I was able to win it.”
Victory continued Nishikori’s love affair with the Spanish clay court season having also reached the final of last year’s Madrid Masters when he took the first set off Nadal before having to retire with an injury.
The injury ended up writing off the rest of his season on clay as he missed the Rome Masters and suffered a shock first round exit at the French Open to Martin Klizan, who he swept aside in Saturday’s semi-final.
The US Open finalist should be a far bigger threat in Paris this year and Andujar recognised that he had been made to pay for not taking his chance to force the match into a deciding set.
“I think Nishikori deserved to win the first set, but not the second,” he said.
“But when you play against players of this calibre, that are capable of getting into a great rhythm, if you don’t take your chances you end up losing.” – Agence France-Presse