South African Kevin Anderson clinched the Vienna Open, thus winning his second title of the year and also booking a place at the ATP Finals.
The 32-year old from Johannesburg won in straight sets, 6-3, 7-6(3), over his opponent from Japan, and closed the gap on their overhaul head to head. He now trails Nishikori by three wins to four, although, he has won both of their matches in 2018.
Anderson used a strong serve to win his first two games on his serve, and was able to break 28-year old in his second game of the set, after Nishkori hit a backhand out. With the advantage of a break, Anderson continued to hold serve throughout the rest of the set, and at 5-3 up, he served to take a first set lead in this, his third final of the year, after winning in New York and losing at Wimbledon.
Ironically, it was this service game in the first set that Nishikori gave him the most to think about.
Anderson raced into a 30-0 lead, only for the world number 11 to bring it back to 30-30 and 40-40. Anderson, had the advantage, and in his first set point opportunity, Nishikori hit a slice back hand into the net, and it was first blood to the him.
In the second set, both players held their serves fairly comfortably, with precise ground-strokes, and the occasional net play. The match went into a tie-break to determine the winner of the set.
In the tie-break, Anderson continued his commanding hold of his serve. Nishikori on the other hand, committed 23 unforced errors, as well as three double faults, and the tie-breaker reached 6-3 in favour of Anderson.
He duly won the match and the title sealed with an ace.
Anderson had 36 winners, 13 aces and won 91% of his first serve points, and won his 5th title in his career.
He has become the sixth player to qualify for the season ending ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London, starting in two weeks time.
It is his first appearance in the finals, in his 16th year on the ATP Tour.
He joins Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro, Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev in the eight player tournament.