BASEL, Switzerland (AP) Marin Cilic beat Kei Nishikori in straight sets to win the Swiss Indoors title Sunday, a repeat of their 2014 U.S. Open final meeting.
The fourth-seeded Croatian raced through the first set in 25 minutes on his way to a 6-1, 7-6 (5) victory, clinching on a double fault by the third-seeded Nishikori of Japan.
Cilic’s second title of the season, and 16th of his career, strengthened his hold on the last qualifying place for the ATP Tour Finals in London.
Ranked No. 12 coming to Basel, Cilic rose above Tomas Berdych in the points race earlier this week. The eight-man Finals week lineup is decided at the Paris Masters starting Monday.
Sunday’s final was the first Basel title match in a decade that did not feature hometown favorite Roger Federer. The seven-time Basel champion ended his season early due to injury.
Cilic also won on hard courts at Cincinnati in August, and all seven of his singles titles in the past three seasons have been on that surface.
The most significant of those titles was his only Grand Slam victory, when he beat Nishikori 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 at Flushing Meadows.
Nishikori, who still holds a career mark of 7-5 over Cilic, wasted three chances to force a deciding set Sunday when he led 5-4 in the second.
LONDON — Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza have won the International Tennis Federation’s player of the year awards.
At 31, Nadal becomes the oldest ITF men’s world champion after a season in which he won a 10th French Open and a third U.S. Open.
The Spaniard also became the oldest player to finish the year at No. 1 since the ATP rankings began in 1973.
Muguruza dropped only one set en route to her first Wimbledon title and finished the year at No. 2 behind Simona Halep.
“Becoming ITF world champion in such a competitive year is amazing for me,” said Muguruza, who is also Spanish. “(Nadal) is a great role model for all of us, so it is a great moment for tennis in Spain.”
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova has withdrawn from next month’s Australian Open after having surgery on her left wrist.
Tennis Australia on Friday said No. 12-ranked Kuznetsova and China’s Sasai Zheng, with a right knee injury, were the only players ranked in the top 100 who are confirmed as not playing the Jan. 15-28 tournament at Melbourne Park.
Serena Williams, who was pregnant while winning the 2017 Australian Open title and gave birth to her first child in September, “is anticipated to return,” Tennis Australia said.
Williams could equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles with another win at Melbourne Park. Serena Williams’ ranking has dropped to No. 22 during her break from the tour.