Japan’s Kei Nishikori cruised through his Shanghai Masters opener yesterday just 48 hours after lifting his second Tour title in Tokyo, as American John Isner saved three match points to progress.
Nishikori, the No. 14 seed, who became the first Japanese player to win the Japan Open on Sunday, eased past China’s Wu Di 6-2, 6-4 in his first round match.
“Obviously, it’s not easy to play [so soon] after winning the tournament,” said the 22-year-old, who is at a career-high of No. 15 in the rankings after his success in front of home fans.
“But I had a good day today. I love to play here,” added Nishikori, who reached the semi-finals in Shanghai last year before he lost to eventual champion Andy Murray of Britain.
Nishikori’s weekend win over big-serving Milos Raonic was his first on the Tour since the 2008 Delray Beach title, sharply raising expectations that Asia had uncovered a potential world-beater.
Eighth-seed John Isner was forced to dig deep to save three match points to win a second-round match containing three tie-breaks and keep alive his outside chance of qualifying for next month’s ATP World Tour Finals.
Isner booked his place in the third round by beating South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (8/10), 7-6 (9/7) in two hours and 45 minutes.
In a match featuring 45 aces and no service breaks, Anderson squandered match points at 6-4 and 7-6 in the third set tie-break.
“Really, we both served well,” Isner said. “It’s one of the few times where I don’t think I was out served, but he served right up there with me as far as, you know, aces, percentages, whatnot.”
“It came down to a few points here or there, and I was able to pull it out. It was looking bleak for a little bit,” he added.
In first-round action, French 15th seed Gilles Simon knocked out Jurgen Melzer of Austria 6-4, 6-2 and Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka, the No. 13 seed, battled past Albert Ramos of Spain 7-6 (7/1), 7-6 (7/5).
The top three seeds — Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Murray — all open their campaigns today after first-round byes for the top eight seeds.
Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun beat China’s Zhang Ze 6-0, 6-2.
Additional reporting by staff writer
AP, OSAKA, Japan
Second-seeded Zheng Jie of China advanced to the second round of the Japan Open yesterday with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 win over Maria Jose Martina Sanchez of Spain.
Zheng broke her opponent three times in the final set to wrap up the win in 2 hours, 43 minutes at the Utsubo Tennis Center and will face France’s Pauline Parmentier in the second round.
In other matches, sixth-seeded Anabel Medina Garrigues also dropped the first set, but recovered for a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over Italy’s Camila Giorgi.
In the day’s only upset, wild-card entry Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand beat fifth-seeded Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-2.