Wild card Sweeting sinks Nishikori for clay title

Texas: American wild card Ryan Sweeting captured his first ATP Tour title — in his first final — by beating Kei Nishikori 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) at the US Clay Court Championships.”I think I’m most happy the way I performed under pressure in my first final,” Sweeting said. “I stayed calm and stayed focused. I didn’t let the moment get to me which in past performances I have.”Sweeting is the first wild card winner in this tournament since fellow American Mardy Fish did it five years ago. He is also the fifth first-time winner on the tour this season.”I feel in the past I’d see the finish line and I’d start thinking about that,” Sweeting said. “I didn’t think about the end result today. In the tiebreaker, I just tried to play each point.”Sweeting, who earned $80,000 in prize money, celebrated with a cannon ball leap ino the River Oaks Country Club swimming pool.The 21-year-old Nishikori of Japan didn’t go home empty handed as he collected $42,000.

His late comeback just fell shot as Sweeting edged him in a second set tiebreaker.The 10th game of the second set went back and forth as the pair duelled through 26 points.Sweeting eventually held serve when sixth-seeded Nishikori’s lob sailed long.Sweeting hit a forehand volley winner in the tiebreaker to get it to match point. He sealed the win when Nishikori’s forehand went wide.”I didn’t want a third set,” Sweeting said.Sweeting will see his world ranking go from 93 to 71 with this win and Nishikori’s will improve from 61st to 49th.Nishikori is trying to catch former Japanese star Shuzo Matsuoka who holds the Japanese world ranking record of 46.Nishikori has come a long way since undergoing elbow surgery two years ago which dropped him right out of the ATP ranking system.He was hoping a victory in Houston would provide some inspiration and hope to Japan in the wake of the earthquake-tsunami disaster.”I wasn’t aggressive enough,” Nishikori said. “I really wanted to win but I think he deserved it today. He played well, better.”Nishikori is working with his fellow tennis players in setting up a website where people can bid on items to raise money for the Japan victims.A tennis shirt worn by Spain’s Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open has already surpassed the $5,200 mark. There is also a tennis racquet signed by former grand slam winner John McEnroe and one of Maria Sharapova’s tennis shoes. – Yahoonews