Japan's Nishikori triumphs in Malaysian Open
KUALA LUMPUR - Japan's rising star Kei Nishikori clinched his first Malaysian Open title on Sunday after beating France's Julien Benneteau in two tight sets.
The top seed won 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, becoming the first Asian to win the ATP Word Tour 250 series tournament.
Nishikori made waves when he advanced to the recent US Open final, making him the first Asian man to make a Grand Slam singles final.
Sunday's much-awaited showdown at a packed Putra Stadium in Kuala Lumpur got off to a cracking start as both players traded 17 strokes in the first rally, which proved to be the first of many long exchanges.
Benneteau took an early hold to lead 3-1, but Nishikori displayed gritty resilience, powering back to draw level before going on to clinch the first set 7-6 (7/4).
A single break in the second set proved enough for the world number eight to seal the match, boosting his chances of reaching the World Tour Finals in London in November.
Benneteau was looking to win his first ATP Tour title after losing in nine previous finals. The Frenchman was contesting the Kuala Lumpur final for the third year in a row.