Following his first ever appearance in a Grand Slam final, Japanese No. 1 Kei Nishikori continued his upward trend on the ATP World Tour when he secured his third title of the season at the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur.
Nishikori defeated Julien Benneteau, who was desperately trying to end his title drought on the professional tour. The Frenchman moved to 0-10 in ATP finals after Nishikori won the match in 1 hour and 47 minutes, 7-6(4), 6-4.
“It was a very good week and today was my best match of the week,” said Benneteau. “Kei was simply too good in the key moments, especially at the end of the first set. I had some chances, but against these kinds of players, they are small chances and you have to take them. I tried to play my best and I almost did it. I’m disappointed with the loss, but very happy with the level of my game. It’s hard to keep that level of intensity in every point and every game. I need to improve this to be more consistent.”
The top seed now adds 170 points to his Barclays World Tour Finals bid and moved to 44-10 this season.
“It was a really tough start, because he was playing so aggressive,” said Nishikori. “I was waiting for my opportunity. I had so many break points and I couldn’t take them. In the last game, he got a little bit tight and I took my chance. After that I played much better and I think he was getting a little bit tired in the second set. I tried to raise my level. It wasn’t my best tennis, but it’s good to win like this.”