ATP ITALIAN OPEN: Nishikori Gets Winning Groove Back As Vinci Crashes Out
JAPAN’S Kei Nishikori eased into the second round of the ATP Italian Open in Rome today as Italy’s Roberta Vinci bowed out of her final WTA tournament with a first round defeat.
Former US Open finalist Vinci fell 2-6, 6-0, 6-3 to Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic on the red clay of the Foro Italico.
The 35-year-old reached the US Open final in 2010 and won ten singles title in her career spanning nearly two decades.
Nishikori — who had lost his two matches on clay in Spain in the previous two weeks — needed 1hr 48min to hand Spaniard Feliciano Lopez his sixth defeat in seven trips to the Italian capital 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.
“It wasn’t easy match. It was windy so conditions were tough for both of us,” said 24th-ranked Nishikori, who hit 18 winners to counter the seven aces fired down by Lopez.
Nishikori arrived in Rome after losing his two matches on clay in Spain — retiring in Barcelona due to a recurring wrist injury problem before losing his opening-round in Madrid to Novak Djokovic.
“He used a lot of slice and great serves, but I think I handled his slice well,” continued Nishikori who won his last title in Memphis in February 2016.
“The first set could have gone both ways, luckily I got it and after that, I was more confident and I was playing better tennis.”
Nishikori took a one-set lead after a first set-tiebreak that featured nine mini-breaks.
The pair exchanged serves in the second set before 2016 semi-finalist Nishikori broke again and served out to love to book his place in the second-round where he meets third seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.
Robin Haase of the Netherlands needed three sets to get past Russian Daniil Medvedev 3-6, 6-4, 6-,1 with ninth seed Davis Goffin of Belgium seeing off Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer 6-1, 6-2.
In the women’s event, Japan’s Naomi Osaka powered her way past former world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-0, 6-3 to set up a meeting with top seed Simona Halep of Romania.
American Madison Keys, seeded 13th, beat Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-1, with Britain’s Johanna Konta easing past Slovak 17th-seed Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4, 6-3.