Nishikori Fights Past Berdych For First Group Win
Kei Nishikori has a chance of qualifying should he beat Roger Federer on Thursday
Nishikori fought hard to beat sixth seed Tomas Berdych 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 in two hours and 23 minutes. Nishikori will play six-time former champion Roger Federer on Thursday, while Berdych meets four-time titlist Novak Djokovic in their third and final group matches.
Berdych came through a 14-point game for a 3-2 lead, but Nishikori went on to convert his fifth break point opportunity for a decisive 6-5 lead in the 63-minute opener.
Nishikori won the first five points at the start of the second set to take a 2-0, 30/30 advantage, but was left frustrated when Berdych's extra groundstroke power helped him to win the next five games. Berdych closed out the set to love.
Berdych fought back from 15/40 in the second game of the decider, then put Nishikori under pressure at 3-3, 30/30 by striking a forehand volley that hit the net cord and bounced dead for a winner. Nishikori kept his nerve on the break point, forcing a forehand error.
"That was a really big point," said Nishikori. "He had three, four shots that he went really aggressive. I was on the defence all the time. I mean, [the] last shot, I kind of went for it, closed my eyes. [I] was a little bit lucky I made that shot."
At 3-4, Berdych dropped to 0/30 and was unable to re-group as Nishikori launched a series of deep groundstrokes close to the baseline.
"I was playing very good in the second set," said Berdych. "I was playing well in the third. I was the one having a first chance, having a break point in the third set. [I] had a good rally, had a good position to finish the ball, but I just didn't make it. Then he took his chance. He broke me next game."
Berdych reached the 2011 semi-finals (l. to Tsonga) and has qualified for six straight years.