Nishikori recovers to reach Wimbledon third round
LONDON—Japan’s Kei Nishikori came from behind to down France’s Julien Benneteau on Thursday to book his place in the Wimbledon third round.
Nishikori, the world number six, won 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 on Centre Court in two hours and 36 minutes.
The 2014 US Open finalist looked briefly troubled when he lost the first set but turned it around.
“I started playing more aggressive and more solid,” the 26-year-old said.
“It wasn’t an easy match. He started well so it was a great match for me.”
Japan’s greatest-ever men’s tennis player faces Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov in the third round.
“He’s a great young player. I think he likes grass. He hits very flat and also has a good serve,” Nishikori said.
Benneteau has plunged to 547 in the rankings after missing eight months of the tour last year due to abductor surgery, but got into Wimbledon on a protected ranking.
Nishikori pulled out of Wimbledon last year due to a leg injury and it remains the only Grand Slam where the Japanese star has failed to reach at least the quarter-finals.
He is still struggling with a rib injury that forced him to withdraw from the Wimbledon warm-up event in Halle.
Meanwhile, Roger Federer predictably outclassed Marcus Willis to reach round three at Wimbledon, but the British underdog was nevertheless able to enjoy his unexpected day in the spotlight.
Wednesday’s meeting on Centre Court represented one of the greatest mis-matches in grand-slam history, as 17-time grand-slam champion Federer - seeking his eighth crown at the All England Club - faced a player ranked 772nd in the ATP rankings.
And although Federer triumphed with ease, completing a 6-0 6-3 6-4 win in an hour and 24 minutes, there were plenty of highlights for Willis and a partisan crowd to savour, the British number 23 exhibiting flashes of brilliance against his illustrious rival.
Willis had come through six qualifying matches before shocking Ricardas Berankis in the first round on Monday and appeared intent on enjoying his dream meeting with Federer from the outset.While the home favourite was unable to win a game in the opening set, he did raise cheers with a host of impressive strokes the arguable highlight a backhand lob in the third game that rounded off a fine rally.
Having initially been restricted to celebrating individual points, the flamboyant Willis proved increasingly competitive as the match wore on, thanks largely to some impressive serving.
Federer had to be content with a solitary break in set two and was forced to recover from 30-40 when trailing 3-2 in the third, either side of consecutive love holds from his opponent.
However, the third seed soon reasserted his control as the stunning run of Willis, who will earn £50,000 for his efforts at Wimbledon, came to an end amid warm applause.—AFP