Nishikori Back To Winning Ways In Rome
After back-to-back losses in Spain, Kei Nishikori recorded his 10th match win of the 2018 ATP World Tour season on Monday, defeating Spain’s Feliciano Lopez 7-6(5), 6-4 at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
"It wasn't easy match," said Nishikori. "It was windy and he used a lot of slice and great serves."
The World No. 24 withstood seven aces from Lopez and hit 18 winners to advance to the second round after one hour and 48 minutes. After reaching the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters final last month, Nishikori went 0-2 in Spain, retiring from his first match in Barcelona due to injury before losing his opening-round encounter in Madrid against Novak Djokovic.
Lopez has now lost in the first round on six of his past seven visits to the Foro Italico after reaching the third round in 2011 (l. to Nadal).
After failing to convert set point in a marathon 12th game, Nishikori took a one-set lead in an eventful first set-tiebreak that featured nine mini-breaks. The 2016 semi-finalist carried the momentum through to the second set, breaking early to establish a 2-0 lead. Lopez broke back to reach 3-3, but Nishikori broke once again and served out the match to love to book his place in the second-round.
"Luckily I [won the] first set and after that I was more confident and I was playing better tennis," said Nishikori.
Next up for the Japanese star is third seed Grigor Dimitrov. Nishikori leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with the Bulgarian 3-1, but Dimitrov won their most recent match to lift the 2017 Brisbane International presented by Suncorp title.
The BMW Open by FWU runner-up (l. to Zverev) battled from 2-5 down to take a one-set advantage and served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, before Khachanov rallied to force a decider. Neither man dropped serve in the third set as the match headed to a final-set tie-break, where Kohlschreiber finally secured victory on his third match point.
The 29-year-old clinched crucial breaks at 4-4 in both sets to beat the 2011 semi-finalist (l. to Nadal) in 78 minutes. Paire has now won seven of his 10 matches in the Italian capital, highlighted by a run to the semi-finals on his debut in 2013 (l. to Federer).
Did You Know?
Kei Nishikori and Feliciano Lopez’s first-round clash at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia was their seventh encounter on the ATP World Tour, and despite a close FedEx ATP Head2Head record (Nishikori leads 4-3), all seven meetings have been won in straight sets.