Kei Nishikori Edges Dimitrov As Nadal And Djokovic Cruise Through
Kei Nishikori edged past Grigor Dimitrov to set up a last 16 tie with Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Kei Nishikori edged past Grigor Dimitrov 6-7(4) 7-5 6-4 in just under three hours to advance to the third round in Rome while Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic cruise through.
The Bulgarian and world number four edged a tight first set after breaking Nishikori to love, when the world number 24 was serving for the set at 5-4. There were many tight points however Dimitrov’s backhand held the key to a very tight opening set.
The second set was another tight set as Nishikori began to construct longer rallies in a bid to outlast the third seed. The duo shared breaks in games seven and eight as Dimitrov couldn’t use his first serve effectively to keep his narrow advantage in the second set. The Semi-Finalist from 2016 eventually found the breakthrough in the 12th game as he prevented a tiebreak to force a deciding set.
However despite losing the second set, Dimitrov remained resilient and sealed a break of serve in the fifth game for a 3-2 lead. The Bulgarian, who turns 27 today, became more controlled with his shot-making although there were still more twists and turns to come in the set. The world number four couldn’t keep his cool though as Nishikori turned on the heat and applied pressure on Dimitrov’s backhand. When the Bulgarian’s backhand was tested the pressure was too much and Nishikori took advantage to grab the final three games of the match and seal an epic victory.
The result means that Nishikori has built more confidence heading into Roland Garros and is starting to produce some of his best tennis while Dimitrov has now lost back to back matches on the clay as his hopes of being the second seed at Roland Garros have been dashed. Nishikori will now play Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round
Nadal and Djokovic Cruise Through
In other results both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic cruised into the third round in Rome with comfortable victories. The top seed Rafael Nadal only lost one game as he decimated Damir Dzumhur 6-1 6-0 in 60 minutes. After the match Nadal revealed that he was pleased with his victory, “Yeah, a positive match, of course. Good start here. It is important, after a loss in Madrid, it’s important to come back strong. And that’s what I did today. I went on court with the right intensity. I don’t know how many mistakes I did, but not much. And having the control, more or less, of a high percentage of the points. So that was the way that I want to play.”
11th seed Novak Djokovic also progressed into the third round after a 6-4 6-2 win over Georgian qualifier, Nikoloz Basilashvili. The Serb won 81% of his 1st serve points as he set up a third round meeting with Albert Ramos-Vinolas.