Japan’s Kei Nishikori beat American Frances Tiafoe in three sets Tuesday in their first-round match at the Erste Bank Open.
Nishikori, the fifth seed, defeated the No. 45 Tiafoe 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-2 to book a spot against Russia’s Karen Khachanov or Austria’s Dennis Novak in the second round of the ATP 500 tournament at Vienna’s Stadthalle.
The 28-year-old Japanese, who is vying for one of the remaining berths in the eight-player ATP Finals in London starting Nov. 11, has reached the quarterfinals or better in his last four tournaments.
He is locked in a battle with American John Isner in the ATP Race to London for the now-coveted No. 9 spot since Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro, who has already qualified, injured his right patella bone at the Shanghai Masters and will likely withdraw from the season finale.
Last month, Nishikori was knocked out in the U.S. Open semifinals by Serbian rival Novak Djokovic and made another semifinal exit at the Moselle Open in France when he was upset by Germany’s Matthias Bachinger.
He finished runner-up at the Rakuten Japan Open in Tokyo earlier this month and was eliminated in the Shanghai Masters quarterfinals by Roger Federer the following week.
All — Kyodo News+