Kei Nishikori’s hopes of a third Japan Open crown were dashed Sunday by Russian qualifier Daniil Medvedev, who crushed the local hero 6-2, 6-4 to play party-pooper.
Medvedev punched well above his world ranking of 32 and overpowered third seed Nishikori in a one-sided Tokyo final, taking just 63 minutes to scoop his third career title.
Nishikori, who won the tournament in 2012 and 2014, had not dropped a set before running into the beefy Russian and came into the match as the overwhelming favourite.
But Medvedev snaffled an early break thanks to a wild backhand from Nishikori, who gift-wrapped the first set to his opponent with a tame double-fault.
A misfiring Nishikori, who won the last of his 11 career titles in Memphis two years ago, continued to struggle as his towering opponent grew in confidence.
Chasing a first tournament victory after recovering from a lengthy wrist injury, the world number 12 never really threatened Medvedev’s serve and went out in a flurry of unforced errors.
Medvedev completed the upset with a drilled forehand to join a eye-popping list of Japan winners that includes Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Ken Rosewall.