Nishikori storybook run ends in U.S. Open final

Mon Sep 8, 2014 10:33pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Japanese trailblazer Kei Nishikori had a thrilling run at the U.S. Open, but could not summon a finishing kick as he hit the wall against big-hitting Marin Cilic in Monday's final at Flushing Meadows.

"I was a little bit tight and nervous, playing (my) first final," the 24-year-old said after his 6-3 6-3 6-3 drubbing.

"I was trying to concentrate, but it wasn't enough, I guess. Played too much tennis on the court these two weeks. Couldn't fight one more match.

"It was one of the worst matches I played today."

The grand slam final, the first for both players, proved anti-climactic for Nishikori, who had won fans around the world as the first Asian man to reach a major singles title-decider.

The boyish 10th seed had played giant-killer in the leadup, showing a heart as big as Arthur Ashe Stadium as he beat fifth seed Milos Raonic in five sets in the fourth round and upset Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka in another five-set tussle in the quarter-finals.

He saved his best for the semi-finals when he shocked world number one Novak Djokovic in four stifling-hot sets on center court.

He had no answer to the booming serves and aggressive ground game of the 6-foot-6 (1.98 m) Croat Cilic, however.   Continued...

Kei Nishikori of Japan holds his runner up trophy as he looks at the winner's trophy after being defeated in the men's singles final match by Marin Cilic of Croatia at the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 8, 2014.          REUTERS/Mike Segar