Kei Nishikori was crowned Barcelona Open champion for the second consecutive year after a hard-fought 6-4 6-4 victory over surprise Spanish finalist Pablo Andujar.

It was the ninth career title for the top-seeded Japanese, who again showed his improved endurance as he battled to come out on top against the world number 66.

"I didn't think about winning the tournament at the start of the week because of the strength of the players here, especially the Spanish, but now I am very happy," Nishikori told reporters.

"I knew that Andujar has a good backhand and my plan was to move the ball around a bit. It worked well in the last few games and then with the final shot I closed my eyes and it went in."

Nishikori exploded on the tennis scene last year, reaching his first ever Grand Slam final at the US Open and he will be among the favourites to win the French Open next month.

Strong from the back of the court, he is well suited to clay courts, also having reached the final of the Madrid Open in 2014 where he had to retire injured against Rafael Nadal.

Source: Reuters