Murray overcomes Nishikori to improve to 2-0 in ATP Finals

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LONDON — Andy Murray survived the longest three-set match in ATP Finals history by outlasting Kei Nishikori 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-4 and posting a 21st consecutive win on Wednesday.

Top-ranked Murray needed 3 hours, 20 minutes to separate himself from Nishikori. The first set alone took 85 minutes.

It is the first time since the tournament moved to the O2 Arena in 2009 that Murray has won both of his opening two group matches, and he is in pole position to reach the semifinals for the first time in four years.

That could come later Wednesday if Marin Cilic defeats Stan Wawrinka.

Novak Djokovic is already through, and defeat against Nishikori would have hurt Murray’s chances of holding onto top spot in the rankings.

The Scot, who was given another standing ovation when he walked on court, said: “Kei was making me run a lot, he was dictating a bunch of the points. I managed to get enough breaks to win it.

“That’s what you work for, is these moments in places like this. It was an amazing atmosphere.

“I feel OK right now. It’s normally the next day when you feel stiff and sore, but there’s hopefully three days left in the season and I’ll give my best to get through as many matches as I can.”

For all of Murray’s achievements this year, this was the first time he played a top-five opponent since June, when he lost to Djokovic in the French Open final.

Nishikori was one of only three players to beat him in the intervening five months, edging a five-setter in the U.S. Open quarterfinals.

Nishikori also won their only previous meeting here two years ago, and was impressive in beating an albeit lackluster Wawrinka on Monday.

But he had to save a set point at 6-5 down, and needed five set points to take the opener on a wide forehand by Murray.

Murray immediately broke to start the second. Nishikori tied it at 4-4. But Murray broke straight back, and had to save two set points to force a decider.

Murray has played more matches than ever this season and he looked drained, but Nishikori’s decision-making was clouded by fatigue, and lost his serve in the third game.

When a double fault made it 4-1 to Murray, the top seed finally had some breathing space and the end was in sight.

Nishikori showed commendable resolve to retrieve one break, but Murray served out at the second time of asking.

Sorribes Tormo beats 2nd-seeded Trevisan at Parma Open

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PARMA, Italy — Sara Sorribes Tormo beat second-seeded Martina Trevisan 7-5, 6-0 in the opening round of the Parma Ladies Open – marking the third consecutive first-round loss for this year’s French Open semifinalist.

Third-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu advanced when Viktoriya Tomova retired with Begu leading 7-5, 5-1.

Danka Kovinic beat Oceane Dodin 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 and will next face 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens.

Also on the red clay courts, Mayar Sherif of Egypt eliminated fifth-seeded Anna Bondar 7-5, 6-4; Elisabetta Cocciaretto defeated seventh-seeded Nuria Parrizas Diaz 7-5, 6-1; and Italian wild card Matilde Paoletti earned her first tour-level win by beating Romanian qualifier Gabriela Lee 6-4, 3-6, 6-0.

Nakashima takes first ATP Tour title at San Diego

San Diego Open - Finals
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SAN DIEGO – Brandon Nakashima earned his first ATP Tour victory in his hometown, beating friend and fellow Southern Californian Marcos Giron 6-4, 6-4 in the San Diego Open final.

“It’s super-special, something you dream of, but to have it happen in my hometown with all my friends and family here, it’s a moment I’ll never forget,” said Nakashima, who had two previous finals appearances. “I hope there are many more moments like this to come.”

Nakashima, a 21-year-old who grew up in San Diego and trained extensively at the event’s site as a junior, clinched the opening set in only 30 minutes. The second set, filled with lengthy rallies, took nearly an hour.

Giron, the No. 5 seed and former NCAA title winner from UCLA, wasn’t able to fend off Nakashima’s persistent ground strokes and well-placed serves. Nakashima had eight aces, six in the first set.

Serving at 5-4 in the second set, Nakashima tallied the match’s deciding two points when Giron pushed an easy volley into the net, followed by Nakashima’s second-serve ace.

He earned $93,090, about half of what received for reaching the third round of the U.S. Open in early September.

Nakashima, who was ranked No. 69 on the ATP Tour, moved up to 48, his highest ranking in nearly three years on tour. Despite the loss, Giron moved up to 53 from 58.

Not only was the singles title claimed by an American, the doubles title also taken by an American duo as the second-seeded pair of Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow defeated Australians Jason Kubler and Luke Saville 7-6 (5), 6-2.

The $612,00 event was held at Barnes Tennis Center, which next hosts the $757,900 WTA 500 San Diego Open, Oct. 8-16. That will feature 16 of the world’s top-ranked 20 women pros, led by No. 1 Iga Swiatek.