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Tennis: Kei Nishikori advances to French Open 2nd round

Japan’s Kei Nishikori advanced to the second round of the French Open for the fourth straight year on Sunday, after beating France’s Maxime Janvier in straight sets.

The 19th-seeded Nishikori defeated the French wild card 7-6(0), 6-4, 6-3. Japan’s world No. 21 struggled with the serves and shots of his 304th-ranked opponent, but claimed the first set after scoring seven consecutive points in the tie-break.

Nishikori found his rhythm in the second set, when he broke the first game with three return aces. He saved 10 break point opportunities throughout the 2 hour, 19 minute match.

“My opponent was really good. The quality of his performance was beyond his world rankings,” Nishikori said. “Winning the match in three sets means a lot to me. I didn’t allow a single break point and I concentrated well during important moments of the match.”

The 28-year-old Japanese was playing in his first Grand Slam event since last July’s Wimbledon. He missed two tournaments after being sidelined with a season-ending injury sustained in August.

“My biggest motivation is just being here,” Nishikori said. “I was nervous at first. But I told myself I need to enjoy playing here during the third set, and it made me feel better.”

The former world No. 4 came back to competition in late January and is making his way up the ladder again, winning three of his four matches against players ranked fifth or higher.

“When I returned to competition, I wasn’t confident in my performance even when I played against players ranked 100 or so. But I have a stronger desire to win compared to before.”

Among other Japanese, Yoshihito Nishioka made a first-round exit after losing 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-5 to Spain’s Fernando Verdasco in a marathon match lasting 4 hours, 23 minutes.

(Maxime Janvier serves during his match against Kei Nishikori)
[Getty/Kyodo]

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