History was made in Memphis on Sunday afternoon, as Japanese No. 1 Kei Nishikori became the first player to win the Memphis Open title three consecutive times since the tournament’s inception 40 years ago.
Not only did Nishikori achieve what no other competitor has been able to do since the first edition of the tournament in 1975, he withstood 12 aces from Kevin Anderson to defeat the South African in straight sets to lift his first title of the season.
The world No. 5 took part in a turbulent week in Memphis, but managed to conclude it with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Anderson. He surpassed other titleholders like Tommy Haas and Jimmy Connors, who have only won the title twice consecutively.
“It feels great, of course,” he said. “Today’s match was much different than [the past] couple of matches. I played really solid from the baseline and returned really well.”
In an interesting gesture from the tournament, Nishikori was gifted with a custom-made Gibson Memphis ES-335 Figured Gloss Semi-Hollowbody electric guitar instead of a traditional trophy.
“I love it!” Nishikori said of his prize. “I’ve never done guitar before, but I think I might need to start and get some lessons.”
Anderson, who was chasing his third title on the ATP World Tour, was disappointed with his inability to compete against Nishikori. However, he will now set his sights on another tournament he has done well in historically, Delray Beach.
“Being in that stage a few times now in the finals, obviously you want to take it a little bit further, but it wasn’t there,” he said. “I have a couple of other tournaments coming up now, so I can’t afford to dwell on this.”