Japan’s Kei Nishikori rallied to defeat big-serving American John Isner 4-6 6-4 6-4 on Sunday to win the Washington Open and capture his 10th career ATP title.
The 25-year-old Asian No.1 won his third crown of the season after defending titles at Memphis and Barcelona, taking the $US343,000 ($A462,000) top prize at the US capital’s combined ATP and WTA hardcourt event, a warm-up for the US Open that starts in three weeks.
“I’m very happy to win today,” Nishikori said. “It was a tight match.”
Nishikori, who will rise one spot in world rankings on Monday to match his career high of fourth, was last year’s US Open runner-up to Croatian Marin Cilic, whom he beat in the Washington semi-finals in their first meeting since last year in New York.
“I’m looking forward to playing again in the US Open,” Nishikori said.
Nishikori became the first Asian singles winner in the tournament’s 47-year history despite connecting on only 59 per cent of his first serves. He managed to win 42 of his 46 first-serve points.
Isner, who won his only prior meeting with Nishikori in April’s Miami quarter-finals, missed a chance for his 11th career ATP crown after winning his third consecutive Atlanta title last week.
Isner, who fired 18 aces to five for Nishikori, will jump from 18th to 12th in Monday’s rankings.
“It’s never easy against a big server like John,” Nishikori said.
It was Isner’s third loss in a Washington final after falling to Andy Roddick in 2007 and Juan Martin Del Potro in 2013.
Isner took the only break of the first set in the last game. Nishikori netted a forehand to surrender two break chances but Isner needed only one thanks to a service return forehand winner down the line.
Nishikori answered by opening the second set with a break, as Isner hit a forehand wide on the decisive point on a call that withstood review, and then held serve five times to force a third set.
Nishikori jumped on a second serve for a return winner to break Isner, then held at love to grab a 3-1 lead in the final set. He held at love again in the eighth game for a 5-3 edge and again at love in the last game, winning on a forehand winner and raising his arms to celebrate.