|Kei Nishikori, playing at Indian Wells last|
March, became the fourth active player to
win the same tournament at least four times.
The others: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and
Novak Djokovic. Photo by Paul Bauman
Japan's Nishikori, seeded first and ranked seventh, defeated Fritz, an 18-year-old U.S. wild card, 6-4, 6-4 to win the Memphis (Tenn.) Open for the fourth straight year.
"It's amazing to win four in a row," Nishikori, who lost the first three games against Fritz, told reporters. "I tried not to think about it too much this week. I didn't feel a lot of pressure.
"It was a tough start again today, but I managed it better. I played better tennis as the match went on, and I'm happier with the second set. I only gave him a few points on my serve in the last few games."
The only other active men to win a tournament at least four times in a row are Roger Federer (five Wimbledons, five U.S. Opens and four Halle titles twice), Rafael Nadal (five and four French Opens, eight Monte Carlo crowns and five Barcelona championships) and Novak Djokovic (four ATP World Tour Finals and four Beijing titles).
Fritz, who was playing in this third tour-level event, became the second-fastest American to reach at ATP final. John Isner was the runner-up at Washington, D.C., in 2007 in his second ATP tournament. He was a 22-year-old University of Georgia graduate at the time.
"I definitely didn't expect to get to the finals so quickly starting on the ATP level, but it's a great accomplishment to get here," said Fritz, whose parents (Guy Fritz and former top-10 player Kathy May) and uncle (Harry Fritz) all played professionally. "I'm really happy despite losing the finals because I had a great week. So I have a lot of confidence moving forward, and I hope I can keep these kind of results going."
Fritz, who was ranked No. 694 before winning back-to-back Northern California Challengers in Sacramento and Fairfield last October, will rise to No. 103 when the new list is released on Monday.
The slow court in Memphis favored the speedy, 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) Nishikori over the 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) Fritz.
During the final, Tennis Challenger commentator and former top-10 player Jimmy Arias described Fritz as "a power player. He doesn't always move his feet well, but he has amazing hands."
Nishikori wasn't the only player to repeat in the tournament. Unseeded Mariusz Fystenberg of Poland and Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico won their second straight Memphis title, beating fourth-seeded Americans Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-4.
Querrey, a San Francisco native, swept the Memphis singles and doubles titles in 2010. His partner then was Isner.