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Tennis News • Kei Nishikori Stays 10th In ATP Race To London With Tokyo Loss, Basilashvili Triumphs In Beijing

Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia poses with the trophy after winning his men's singles final match against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing, China, 07 October 2018. EPA-EFE/WU HONG
Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia poses with the trophy after winning his men’s singles final match against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing, China, 07 October 2018.  EPA-EFE/WU HONG

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

Kei Nishikori remained 10th in the race to the Nitto ATP Finals after losing to Daniil Medvedev 6-2, 6-4 in the Japan Open final on Sunday afternoon. A red-hot Mevedev won a dominant 93 percent of his first-serve points and saved the only break point he faced to lift the trophy after one hour and three minutes.

 

A third career title in Tokyo would have pushed Nishikori past John Isner into the No. 1 alternate spot (ninth) for London, but Japan’s top player could not get the job done against the qualifier. Thus Nishikori is left 100 points behind Isner and 705 points south of Dominic Thiem, who resides in the all-important eighth position.

 

“It’s been a great couple months,” said Nishikori, who reached the semifinals of the U.S.Open. “After the U.S. Open, I think I’ve been playing well. Maybe not today, but I’m happy to be in the final here again–especially in Japan, my home. I’ve got to keep playing the same [next week] in Shanghai.”

 

Daniil Medvedev of Russia (R) holds his trophy after defeating Kei Nishikori of Japan (L) in the final match of the Japan Open tennis championships in Tokyo, Japan, 07 October 2018. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHER JUE

Daniil Medvedev of Russia (R) holds his trophy after defeating Kei Nishikori of Japan (L) in the final match of the Japan Open tennis championships in Tokyo, Japan, 07 October 2018. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHER JUE

“When I was going into the match, I knew [my serve] was going to be the key,” Medvedev explained. “Kei is a very good returner. I lost to him one time this year where he won because he was returning all of my serves and I didn’t know what to do. Today I was serving amazing; even the first shots after the serve were amazing, so that’s what helped me win the match.

 

“This is my biggest title, so I’m just really happy.”

 

Nikoloz Basilashvili captured the second 500-point title of his career and second of the season when he upset Juan Martin Del Potro 6-4, 6-4 in the China Open final on Sunday evening. Basilashvili took advantage of an under-the-weather Argentine to triumph after one hour and 39 minutes of play.

 

“I was in a really good shape coming up to this tournament,” said Basilashvili, who–along with Medvedev–has surged into the top 20 in the race to London. “I’m really feeling well on court. Playing against Juan, he was sick today for sure; I could see that. But he put me in really tough situations. I needed to really work it, to work hard to win the points. I really enjoyed this match. To win a title here in Beijing means a lot. It’s one of the best tournaments.”

 

“I gave all my effort to play and gave a big effort to finish the match,” Del Potro commented. “Basilashvili played so good; he deserves to hold the trophy and he is a very good champion.”

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @TennGrand.

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