Kei Nishikori sealed his fifth career ATP title and first on clay with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Santiago Giraldo to claim the Barcelona Open.
Nishikori, who was playing for the first time on clay this week under new coach and former French Open champion Michael Chang, becomes the first non-Spaniard to win the event since 2002.
“I always love to come to Barcelona and it is a pleasure and honour to be here,” said the world number 17.
“Thank you to my team, Dante (Bottini) and Michael, 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.”
Giraldo was playing in just his second career final on the tour and his inexperience showed as Nishikori dictated from the off and broke three times on his way to taking the first set.
More of the same was to come in the second set as Nishikori raced out to a 5-1 lead before serving out for the championship.
However, Giraldo is hopeful that his run in the Catalan capital can spur him on for the rest of the season.
“I hope that this week can be a new stage in my tennis at the highest level.
“I want to thank my team and with them keep on improving.”
Top seed and eight-time champion Rafael Nadal was knocked out by Spanish compatriot Nicolas Almagro in the quarter-finals.– AFP