Nishikori Reaches The Second Round At Roland Garros
Entering Sunday, Kei Nishikori had never lost a clay-court match against an opponent ranked as low as his first-round opponent at Roland Garros, World No. 153 Quentin Halys. That did not change.
The Japanese star dismissed the Frenchman 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 59 minutes to reach the second round in Paris for the fifth consecutive year. Nishikori remains undefeated against wild cards at Grand Slams (5-0), and he will face the winner of former World No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and German Peter Gojowczyk next.
"I thought I played good tennis today. Started really well, winning two sets easy. I think in the third set he start playing a little bit different, playing little more aggressive, and he was making more [balls] than in the first and second set," Nishikori said. "[The] last couple games I started playing better, using my forehand and playing aggressive again. Everything was good today. Very happy with my performance."
Nishikori is now 12-1 against players competing at their home majors, and 8-1 against Frenchmen at Roland Garros. The seventh seed broke serve 18 times from 19 chances, earning 53 per cent of his return points in his first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting against Halys.
Although Nishikori has only won two of his 12 ATP Tour titles on clay, he has won a higher rate of matches on the red dirt (70.5%) than on any other surface. Nishikori made the quarter-finals in Paris in 2015 and 2017.
"My aim has always been to win. I tried to get back on my feet but my tennis wasn't very good. My serve was not good. And when things are like this, then I can't do anything," said Halys, who landed just 44 per cent of his first serves. "It was not a pleasant match for me, 6-2, 6-3 in one hour. I managed to react a little bit to get back on for the third set, but it wasn't a pleasant match to play from the inside, and my best game wasn't there."
The 27th seed, David Goffin, defeated Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 24 minutes. Berankis upset Goffin in a final-set tie-break earlier this year in Doha, but the Belgian now leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-1. In their first match on clay, Goffin struck 10 aces and hit 32 total winners to just 12 unforced errors.
Goffin, like Nishikori, is into the second round at Roland Garros for the fifth straight year. The 2016 quarter-finalist, who also lost just four games in his first-round victory at this year's Australian Open, will next face Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic or American Denis Kudla.