Nishikori quashes Coric in Tokyo
Defending champion Kei Nishikori survived a courageous ambush attempt from Croatian teenager Borna Coric to reach the second round of the Japan Open yesterday.
Playing his first match since helping Japan preserve their place in the Davis Cup world group with victory over Colombia last month, second seed Nishikori had to work extremely hard for his 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 win in Tokyo.
Coric, who stunned Andy Murray in Dubai earlier this year, threatened to spring another upset after exploding from the blocks to take the first set, sealing it with a vicious kick serve which forced Nishikori into a wild return.
But Nishikori, who currently features in a Japanese television commercial for instant noodles dressed as a samurai and smashing a hapless blond-haired opponent with a sword instead of a racquet, awoke from his slumber just in time.
He came roaring back to take the second set before finishing the job in brutal fashion -- an ace to give him match point and a huge serve to the body, flooring the 18-year-old Coric.
“He made it hard for me at the start,” said the world No 6, who has owned the Tokyo centre court in recent years, winning two of the last three Japan Open crowns.
“I knew what I was doing wrong and it was a question of cutting down on the errors,” added Nishikori, chasing a fourth title of the year and the 11th of his career.
“I had to forget about the first set and once I did that I produced some decent stuff,” he added.
Kei Nishikori of Japan in action during the Davis Cup World Group Play-off singles match between Santiago Giraldo of Colombia and Kei Nishikori of Japan at Club Campestre on September 20, 2015 in Pereira, Colombia