Nishikori tops Giraldo for Barcelona crown

 

The Sports Network

Barcelona, Spain (SportsNetwork.com) - Kei Nishikori of Japan earned his first clay-court title with a straight-set victory over Colombia's Santiago Giraldo at the Barcelona Open.

The fourth-seeded Nishikori rolled to a 6-2, 6-2 triumph in Sunday's final for his fifth career ATP World Tour triumph and second in 2014. He also won the Memphis title back in February.

Giraldo broke serve early, but Nishikori responded with three breaks of serve in a 36-minute first set and broke again early in the second to keep the momentum. He won eight straight games at one point.

Nishikori improved to 5-2 all-time in finals, including 1-1 on clay. He lost to Ryan Sweeting in Houston on the slow surface three years ago.

"I was good on clay when I was little, like 14 (years old)," said Nishikori. "I was winning all the European juniors events. Now it's much tougher than hard courts and I was struggling a bit, but I've been playing well these past couple years, so there's no fear to play on clay."

Giraldo fell to 0-2 in finals. He also lost to Tommy Robredo in the 2011 Santiago title match.

"I feel great about the week," said Giraldo. "It was not an easy day for me. Kei played very good. I have good feelings with my play and my improvements."

Sunday's final was the first without a Spaniard since 1996 and Nishikori became the first non-Spanish winner since Argentina's Gaston Gaudio in 2002.

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