Wed, May 09, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Chan Hao-ching exits, Djokovic defeats Nishikori

By Dave Carroll  /  Staff reporter, with AP, MADRID

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns to Kei Nishikori of Japan in their Mutua Madrid Open first-round men’s singles match in Spain on Monday.

Photo: Reuters

Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching yesterday crashed out of the second round of the women’s doubles at the Mutua Madrid Open, while Novak Djokovic celebrated a morale-boosting win in the men’s singles on Monday.

Eighth seeds Chan and Yang Zhaoxuan fell to 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 defeat to unseeded Alicja Rosolska and Abigail Spears in 1 hour, 31 minutes at La Caja Magica in the Spanish capital.

The Polish-American duo saved nine of 12 break points and converted five of 14, winning 72 of the 135 points contested to even their career record over the Taiwanese-Chinese duo, who triumphed in their only previous meeting in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in February.

In the men’s singles, Djokovic on Monday got the type of win he needed to boost his confidence and get his game back on track.

He beat world No. 20 Kei Nishikori 7-5, 6-4 in the first round, his highest-ranked win in 10 months.

Djokovic broke serve late in each set to get past Nishikori after nearly two hours at La Caja Magica.

“I’m glad that match went my way, but it could have gone his way as well. I managed to play the right shots in the important moments,” Djokovic said. “It was exactly what I needed for my confidence and for my game. I’m just happy to go through this one.”

Coming back from an elbow injury, Djokovic has not made it to the quarter-finals in his previous five tournaments this year, admitting he returned too quickly.

In his previous event, he lost in the third round in Monte Carlo, where Nishikori reached the final.

“I’m just trying to take one day at a time, build my game, because that’s something that I feel is a priority right now,” Djokovic said. “I was looking forward to these kind of matches, looking to try to win these kind of matches. I couldn’t ask for a better start. I feel much better about everything that is happening on the court and around tennis, in general, with my body than maybe two months ago.”

Djokovic was aggressive from the start, hitting 26 winners against the Japanese, who has made at least the Madrid Open quarter-finals for the past five years.

He was a finalist in 2014, losing to Rafael Nadal.

Top-ranked Nadal is due to make his tournament debut against Gael Monfils, who defeated qualifier Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Maria Sharapova, who won in Madrid in 2014, made it to the round-of-16 by defeating Irina-Camelia Begu 7-5, 6-1 in only her second match since the Australian Open.

She has been dealing with a forearm injury.

“It was a lot of hard work,” Sharapova said of her match. “Being down a break to start off both of those sets didn’t make things easy for me. That will certainly help me moving forward.”

Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki edged past Ashleigh Barty 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

Wozniacki reached the 2009 final on debut and has not been close since.

“I was lucky to get away with it in that third set,” the second seed said.

Sloane Stephens cruised past Samantha Stosur 6-1, 6-3 in a matchup of US Open champions.

Milos Raonic defeated Nicolas Kicker 6-3, 6-2 to set up a second-round encounter with third seed Grigor Dimitrov, while Richard Gasquet beat Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-2 to advance to play qualifier Dusan Lajovic, who got past Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-2.

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