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Kei Nishikori wins Dallas Challenger: Former world number four steps up comeback from wrist injury

Leye Aduloju in Challengers 4 Feb 2018
  • Kei Nishikori won the Dallas Challenger in his second tournament since returning from a wrist injury
  • First title at any level since Memphis in 2016

Kei Nishikori picked up his first title since returning from a wrist injury when he defeated American Mackenzie McDonald in the final of the RBC Tennis Championships in Dallas.

Nishikori had ended his 2017 season early, after sustaining a wrist injury just before Cincinnati. His lay-off extended to the start of the 2018 season, with the Japanese sitting out the Australian Open. He finally returned to action at Newport Beach Challenger, which incidentally coincided with the second week of the Australian Open.

The former world number four fell in three sets to Dennis Novikov in his comeback match, but he strung together five good wins in the following week in Dallas to win the Challenger event- his first title at any level since winning Memphis in February 2016.

Interestingly, the 28-year-old took out Novikov in the opening round in Dallas, earning revenge for his loss to the American in Newport, and subsequent victories over Matthias Bachinger, Dominic Koepfer, and Jason Jung took him to the final, where he outclassed McDonald in straight sets.

McDonald had famously pushed Grigor Dimitrov to five sets in the second round of the Australian Open, but the American was no match for Nishikori on Sunday, falling to defeat after an hour and 21 minutes. Nishikori saved two break points in the opening game of the match, but he soon settled, breaking twice to take the opener after 29 minutes.

The second set was a lot closer, with a solitary break midway through the set separating the players in the end. Nishikori missed two match points as McDonald served at 3-5, but the Japanese closed out the match in the next game, taking the win on his third match point.

“I’m happy to win and be done,” Nishikori said. “There were moments that were a little stiff, but I also feel like I came back to the game... I made it through a few tough matches. It was a good experience.”

Nishikori’s inactivity had dragged him down to No. 27 in the world, and despite his victory in Dallas, the former No. 4 will not move on the rankings when they are updated on Monday.

Nishikori is next scheduled to play at the New York Open from 11-18 February- his first ATP World Tour event since an opening round exit in Montreal last August.

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Kei Nishikori wins Dallas Challenger: Former world number four steps up comeback from wrist injury

Kei Nishikori continued his comeback from a wrist injury with victory at the Dallas Challenger.

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