Qualifier Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese man to win an ATP title in 16 years by upsetting top-seeded James Blake3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the International Tennis Championships final Sunday.
"I still can't believe it that I beat James Blake," said Nishikori, 18. "I've only seen him on TV. This is my best tournament ever."
The 244th-ranked Nishikori is expected to move to No. 122. He is the youngest to win an ATP title since Lleyton Hewitt won Adelaide at age 16 in 1998.
"I tried to imagine winning the final, but I couldn't do it," said Nishikori, who left his parents at 14 for the Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton, crying at night because he was homesick. His father said of the win, "Good, but next week you have another tournament."
Shuzo Matsuoka was Japan's last tournament champion, at the Seoul tournament in April 1992.
Blake, ranked 12th, has failed to capture the title in consecutive final appearances at the ITC. "I can't seem to get that winner's title so I'll have to keep trying," the Tampa resident said.
Brown, Allen take NOOD overall title
Robbie Brown and Chuck Allen, both of St. Petersburg, were the overall winners of the three-day National Offshore One Design Regatta held in St. Petersburg. Brown/Allen and their boat Preperation J led the J/24 fleet every day, finishing 18 points ahead of Genoa Fedyszyn of St. Petersburg, the largest advantage among all 16 fleets. Brown and Allen receive a trip to Sunsail in the British Virgin Islands in November to compete in the championship against winners from the eight other NOOD series stops.
More records fall at Grand Prix
U.S. swimmer Natalie Coughlin lowered her 100-meter backstroke world record at the Missouri Grand Prix in Columbia, winning a preliminary heat in 59.21 seconds to slice 23-hundredths of a second off the mark.Katie Hoff set her second American record in as many days: 1:56.08 in the 200-meter freestyle.
BOXING:Kelly Pavlik won a unanimous decision over Jermain Taylor in Las Vegas on Saturday, then reiterated his plan to add the WBA and IBF middleweight titles to the WBC and WBO championships he took from Taylor last year. He would likely be a big favorite against Arthur Abraham, the IBF middleweight champ whose career has been entirely in Europe, and Felix Sturm, the WBA middleweight champ who has been unimpressive in his past few fights. Meanwhile, Taylor's trainer Ozell Nelson says he won't fight again at 160 pounds, and his move up to super middleweight could lead to a matchup against St. Petersburg's Jeff Lacy.
COLLEGES: The host Florida softball team won twice, 1-0 over North Carolina and 8-0 over Stetson, to improve to 13-0, the best start in school history. The 2005 team was 11-0.
NFL: Patriots coach Bill Belichick denied suggestions by a former employee that his club taped the Rams' walkthrough before the 2002 Super Bowl. Still, Belichick apologized for the controversy.
SOCCER: A joint bid by Belgium and the Netherlands was the first accepted for the 2018 World Cup. The host will be selected in 2011; the United States, Mexico, Japan, China, Russia, Spain-Portugal, England and Australia are also interested.