Nishikori Overcomes Hiccup To Reach US Open Third Round
Kei Nishikori survived a stern test from American Bradley Klahn to advance at the US Open on Wednesday.
The seventh seed came through a four-set battle on Louis Armstrong Stadium, prevailing 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 after two hours and 43 minutes. Nishikori kicked off Day 3 under the closed roof on Armstrong, as steady rain disrupted play throughout the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
"He served really well today and I lost focus," said Nishikori. "I'm happy to win and I'm looking forward to play the next one. I lost serve at 5-1 and 5-3 [in the fourth] but got through. It's always fun playing in New York and I hope to keep playing good tennis."
Runner-up in New York in 2014, the Japanese star claimed his 25th match win at his most successful Grand Slam event. He also reached the semi-finals in his past two appearances, in both 2016 and 2018.
It looked like Nishikori was going to sweep past Klahn with little resistence. But as soon as the Japanese sprinted to a set and a break lead, his American opponent answered right back. From 2-4 down in the second set, Klahn reeled off four straight games to suddenly draw level. He won 16 of the last 20 points in the set, punctuated by a backhand winner down the line.
Nishikori seized control once again in the third set and overcame a resilient Klahn in the fourth. The California native showed his mettle to break twice when the World No. 7 served for the match at 5-1 and 5-3, saving two match points, but it was the former finalist who would squeak past the finish line on his fifth opportunity.
"I think always there is a positive side if you play a long match. Of course it's better to win in straight sets in one or two hours. Today I learned couple things. Sometimes it's good to have a lot of tennis on the court and especially in the first couple rounds.
"I think today's match will help. There were some up-and-downs and I think I needed to play a lot of tennis, especially because I lost two first rounds in Cincinnati and Canada. I needed to have little more confidence. So I think it was good match today."
Nishikori, who entered the US Open on a three-match losing skid, earned consecutive wins for the first time since Wimbledon, where he reached the quarter-finals. He will next face either Cristian Garin or Alex de Minaur.
Earlier on Wednesday, it was announced that Borna Coric would not take the court for his second-round meeting with Grigor Dimitrov. The 12th seed was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to a lower back injury. Dimitrov will next face either Pablo Cuevas or lucky loser Kamil Majchrzak on Friday.