Tennis: Kei Nishikori wins the 2015 Citi Open


Three comebacks, two avenged losses, one ATP title.  That summed up a fruitful week for Kei Nishikori, who won his first Citi Open and 10th career singles title in Washington, D.C.

Following an opening round bye, Nishikori found himself a set down to Australian James Duckworth before rallying, 6-7 (8), 6-1, 6-4.  After cruising past Leonardo Mayer and Sam Groth in the next two rounds – beating both by a score of 6-4, 6-4 – Nishikori had two more tall challenges ahead: the 6’6″ Marin Cilic in the semifinals and the 6’10” John Isner in the championship match.

Cilic thoroughly dismantled Nishikori to win the 2014 U.S. Open, and their encounter in the Nation’s Capital was their first meeting since that major final.  Cilic appeared to continue his form, winning the first set before Nishikori turned things around, dispatching the Croat 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.  Nishikori now leads their head-to-head match record, 6-3.


In the final, Nishikori faced Isner for just the second time, with the American winning their lone encounter earlier this year in Key Biscayne.  Once again, Nishikori dropped the first set, but turned the tide when he immediately broke Isner’s serve to start the second.  Another break in the final set was all it took for the Japanese No. 1 to win his third title of the year by a score of 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, following victories in Memphis (indoor) and Barcelona (clay).


During his on-court acceptance speech, Nishikori congratulated his team and joked that he had some catching up to do in order to match the numbers of Isner’s own entourage.  Still, it’s a formidable group that includes longtime coach Dante Bottini from the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. (Nishikori’s primary residence) and trainer Koichi Nakao.  Notably absent was co-coach and himself a two-time singles winner in D.C., Michael Chang, who recently celebrated the birth of his third child.  Nishikori won seven of his 10 singles titles after he joined forces with Chang.

“We still talk almost every day before the match about tactics and everything,” Nishikori said in a press conference on Aug. 6 following his defeat of Mayer.  “If he’s here, it would be helpful, but even if he’s not here, I have Dante here so there is no problem.”

Photos: Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic, John Isner – 2015 Citi Open
all photos by Kwai Chan / Meniscus Magazine


Videos: Kei Nishikori press conferences – 2015 Citi Open, Aug. 6 and 7
videos by Mai D. Chan / Meniscus Magazine

Video: Full 2015 Citi Open playlist
all videos by Mai D. Chan / Meniscus Magazine and Kwai Chan / Meniscus Magazine