Austria’s Dominic Thiem is the youngest Top-20 player in Emirates ATP world rankings. However, that didn’t deter him from winning his fourth ATP World Tour Title in the Argentina Open at Buenos Aires on Sunday by defeating Spain’s Nicolas Almagro. At Rotterdam, it was Slovakia’s Martin Klizan, who hung on to beat Frenchman Gael Monfils in three sets to claim the ATP 500 event. The third ATP tournament of the week was held at Memphis, where Japan’s Kei Nishikori created history by winning in the final for the fourth successive time. In beating American teenager Taylor Fritz, Nishikori joined a select band of three currently active tennis stars, who have achieved the distinction of winning four consecutive titles in a single tournament.
After beating the King of Clay Rafael Nadal in the semifinal, Dominic Thiem of Austria won the Argentinian Open at Buenos Aires by beating Spain’s Nicolas Almagro in the final. In the semifinal against Rafael Nadal on Saturday, Thiem was down a match point but he survived to reach the final. Against Almagro on Sunday February 14, Thiem won the first set on tiebreak but lost the second. The victory for the Austrian didn’t come easy as he was down a break in the final set and Almagro only needed to hold his serve to beat him. But the Austrian broke back in the third game and forced a tiebreak. It was a battle of wits afterwards but just as he managed to survive against Nadal on Saturday, Thiem hung on to beat Almagro 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 and take the ATP 250 title.
At Rotterdam’s ATP-500 ABN-AMRO World Tennis Tournament, Slovakia’s Martin Klizan clinched a great victory, when he defeated Gael Monfils of France in the final. The 26 year old Klizan lost the first set 6-7 but came back strongly to capture the next two from Monfils in emerging a 6-7, 6-3, 6-1 winner. It was hard work for Klizan in quarterfinal and semifinal before he entered the title clash with Monfils. In the QF, Klizan needed to save 5 match points against the no. 6 seed Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut. It wasn’t easy for the Slovak in the semifinal either as Nicolas Mahut held 3 match points against Klizan. But Klizan survived and reached the final. Against Monfils in the title game, Klizan had better chances in first set but he wasted all six break opportunities that came his way before losing in tiebreak. In the second set, Klizan earned the break after Monfils committed a double fault in the eighth game. The rest became easy for the Slovak.
In contrast to the relatively laborious victories by Dominic Thiem at Buenos Aires and Martin Klizan at Rotterdam, Japan’s Kei Nishikori played a regulation two-set final against USA’s Taylor Fritz at the ServiceMaster Memphis Open. Nishikori won 6-4, 6-4 and scripted his name in tennis history by joining Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as only the fourth player to win four consecutive victories at a single tournament. The US teen sensation Taylor Fritz had a great tennis week, in which he kept beating one seeded player after another and entered the final to face the Japanese. The 18-year old Fritz did scare Nishikori with 9 aces in the first set and held several break points. But the seasoned Japanese was remarkably composed and kept winning baseline winners against the American, who had made a great start in the final. Fritz took a 2-0 lead early in the first set but the Japanese leveled at 2-2. Once he found the momentum, Nishikori pressed on and broke Fritz again to lead 3-2, before taking the first set 6-4. The Japanese continued with a strong game in the second set; found the much-needed break and raced away to his fourth consecutive Memphis Open title. A delighted Nishikori joined past 4-peat winners; Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. Federer has done that thrice by winning 4 straight titles at Halle, Wimbledon and the US Open; Nadal has achieved the distinction twice at the French Open, Barcelona and Monte-Carlo while Djokovic is a 4-time consecutive winner at the Beijing Open and Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
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