Nishikori Claims Title In Challenger Tour Comeback
Despite playing his first tournament in 20 months, Kei Nishikori produced a high level this week to lift the trophy at the ATP Challenger Tour 75 event in Palmas del Mar, Puerto Rico.
On Sunday, the former World No. 4 defeated American teenager Michael Zheng 6-2, 7-5 in the Caribbean Open final. Nishikori dropped just one set all week en route to the title.
The 12-time tour-level titlist was in vintage form throughout the hard-court event, displaying all-court coverage and clean ball-striking to capture his first trophy at any level since 2018, when he won the ATP 250 event in Brisbane.
Despite serving for the Palmas del Mar title at 5-2, Nishikori dropped serve twice before later closing the match after one hour, 41 minutes. After hitting a volley winner to seal his perfect return to competition, the Japanese star lifted his hands in the air in celebration.
The 33-year-old, who underwent arthroscopic left hip surgery last year, was playing in his first tournament since the BNP Paribas Open in October 2021. Following his dream run in Puerto Rico, Nishikori moves to No. 492 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.