Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan beat fourth seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada 6-4 7-6 to win the Korea Open title in Seoul on Sunday. The 27-year-old Japanese thus rounded off a brilliant week, winning only the second ATP title of his career.
Nishioka, who had beaten World No. 2 Casper Ruud earlier in the tournament, showed exceptional resolve to win the final. On the other hand, it was yet another disappointment for the 23-year-old Shapovalov, who is going through yet another trophyless season.
Now, we will take a look at three keys to the match:
Three keys to Yoshihito Nishioka’s win over Denis Shapovalov in the Korea Open final
#1. Shapovalov played attacking tennis, but Nishioka held firm with his defense:
Shapovalov, quite expectedly, attacked his opponent from the beginning, hitting his powerful groundstrokes off either wing. However, Nishioka stayed calm and defended well, thereby allowing the Canadian to make mistakes.
There were a lot of backhand crosscourt exchanges between the two and Shapovalov occasionally pulled the trigger by going for down-the-line shots. Nishioka, meanwhile, played his forehands with a lot of top spin and always tried to extend the rally.
The Japanese got the all-important break of serve in the ninth game of the first set and then served it out. Shapovalov was thus forced to fall behind despite being the more aggressive and powerful player by some distance.
#2. Shapovalov started playing more slices to go a break up in the second set:
Shapovalov started the second set well, breaking Nishioka’s serve once to go 3-1 up and looked good to draw level. The Canadian changed his tactic slightly to pose a different challenge to Nishioka.
He started hitting backhand slices more often instead of going for his slinging crosscourt backhand, which meant that Nishioka could no longer redirect with same power.
#3. Nishioka bounced back as Shapovalov rushed the net too often:
Shapovalov also started approaching the net and played drop shots more frequently as the match progressed, but that tactic of his backfired at times as Nishioka displayed great foot-speed and was able to pass him a few times.
Moreover, Shapovalov also over-pressed with his forehand at times and hit quite a few of his shots wide. It allowed Nishioka to get a break back and take the set into a tie-break, which he finally managed to win as the Canadian hit his shot wide on match point.
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