sport

Nishikori bags Barcelona title

Japan's Kei Nishikori won the first claycourt title of his career with a straight-sets victory over Colombian Santiago Giraldo in the final of the Barcelona Open.

Nishikori, returning to action at this event after almost a month out with a groin injury, prevailed 6-2 6-2 in an hour and 13 minutes to become the first non-Spaniard to win the tournament since 2002.

World No 65 Giraldo had knocked off three seeded players on the way to reaching the second final of his career but was let down by his serve during a one-sided contest.

Nishikori, the fourth seed, broke three times while taking the first set and twice more in moving 5-1 ahead in the second before serving out the victory.

"I always love to come to Barcelona and it is a pleasure and honour to be here," said world No 17 Nishikori, whose previous four ATP Tour titles all came on hardcourts, including in Memphis in February.

"Thank you to my team, Dante (Bottini) and Michael (Chang), and I hope I come back next year and defend this title.

"It is not easy to win this title with all the Spanish players that play here. It is one of the most difficult ATP 500 tournaments and I am very happy to win."

Shock

The Barcelona Open had been Rafael Nadal's personal fiefdom for most of the previous decade.

Nadal won it eight times in nine years - he missed the 2010 edition - but suffered a shock quarter-final exit to fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, who was himself beaten by Giraldo in the last four.

Giraldo is hoping his run to the final can spur him on for the remainder of the season.

"I hope that this week can be a new stage in my tennis at the highest level," he said. "I want to thank my team and with them keep on improving."