Producing a stunning counter-attack display, Yoshihito Nishioka defeated Denis Shapovalov at the Korea Open Tennis Championships to claim his second ATP Tour title in style here on Sunday.
The 26-year-old Japanese downed the fourth seed 6-4, 7-6(5) with a performance full of blistering shotmaking from deep.
Despite Shapovalov finding improved rhythm behind his serve and powerful forehand as the match wore on, Nishioka’s movement and stoic defence proved key as he rallied from a 1-3 deficit in the second set before staying solid in the tie-break to secure a one-hour, 55-minute victory.
“This week was amazing for me. I played very well on the court, my mentality and attitude. I just focused on the play, which was very important I think. In a couple of matches, it was very close, but I played very well and tried to figure out how to beat the opponent and every match I fought. I needed to play like this in all the matches [so that] I had a chance to beat each of the players,” Nishioka was quoted as saying by the ATP website.
A pivotal hold from 0/40 in the seventh game of the match was an early demonstration of the sort of resilience that had taken Nishioka past Daniel Evans and Casper Ruud en route to the final in Seoul.
The Japanese appeared to garner confidence from that recovery as his lightning movement around the court made it difficult for Shapovalov to hit through him.
After Nishioka carved out his first set point at 5-4, 30/40, the Canadian netted a relatively straightforward forehand volley for Nishioka to move ahead.
Shapovalov responded well to that disappointment, firing a series of blazing forehand winners to lead 3-1 in the second, but Nishioka once again used his defensive abilities to engineer an impressive comeback and force a tie-break. The unseeded Japanese was the more solid player from then on, ultimately sealing victory despite only hitting 14 winners to Shapovalov’s 38.
Nishioka lifted his maiden ATP Tour title in Shenzhen in 2018 and was appearing in his second championship match of 2022 at that level after reaching the Washington final in August, a run that included wins against Alex de Minaur, Karen Khachanov, and Andrey Rublev. His triumph in Seoul lifts the 26-year-old 15 spots to No. 41 in the ATP Rankings.