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Nishioka beats Nishikori in all-Japanese contest

Nishioka beats Nishikori in all-Japanese contest

AFP
Cincinnati
Kei Nishikori lost to fellow Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 on Wednesday in the second round of the ATP Cincinnati Masters.
The sixth seed went down to his 77th-ranked compatriot, who came through qualifying, in just over 90 minutes.
“It was a tough match for me. I think he played good tennis, served well,” Nishikori said.
“I was happy to play him for the first time. It’s good to see he’s getting stronger, growing up. He was already good, he gets a lot of balls back and has good defence.”
Nishikori has never advanced beyond the third round at the US Open warm-up event. Nishioka will next face Australia’s Alex de Minaur, who was a 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 winner over American wildcard Reilly Opelka.
Halep fights back
Simona Halep fought back from a set down to defeat Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.
Wimbledon champion Halep, seeded fourth, earned a late break in the penultimate game of the final set to reach the third round after two hours of action.
The Romanian has finished runner-up in Cincinnati three times, last reaching the final a year ago against Kiki Bertens.
In the next round, the 27-year-old, who retired injured from her Toronto quarter-final against Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova last week, will face either Madison Keys of the United States or Russia’s Daria Kasatkina.
“It was a very, very tough match,” Halep said. “She played well, hitting the ball very strong.
“Mentally, it was tough to return for me at the start after playing injured last week.
“But I didn’t have pain, which is good. It took time to get a rhythm and then do something on court.”
She went up a break in the third set, before letting the lead slip, only for the 43rd-ranked Alexandrova to serve two straight double-faults and fall 5-4 behind.
Halep completed her fightback on a second match point a game later.
“After the first set, I felt I could play aggressive,” she added. “I also changed the tactics.
“I fought and did not give up. I wanted to run for every ball, it felt really good.”
Ninth seed Elina Svitolina, a semi-finalist four years ago, advanced past Belgian Elise Mertens 6-4, 6-1.
France’s Richard Gasquet, who ended Andy Murray’s comeback singles tournament in the first round, saw off Argentinian Federico Delbonis 7-5, 7-6 (7/1).
Earlier on Tuesday, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic overwhelmed opponents as Serena Williams withdrew because of back trouble.
Williams had hoped to rebound from the back spasms that forced her out of the WTA final in Toronto on Sunday, where she lasted only four games before retiring.
But the 23-time Grand Slam champion said her back was “still not right” casting a further shadow on her chances at the US Open starting in Flushing Meadows on August 26.
For Djokovic and Federer, back in action for the first time since the Serb’s victory over the Swiss in the Wimbledon final, it was a smooth start to their US Open build-up.
Federer, seeded third, remained unruffled by a one-hour rain interruption at 2-2 in the second set, eventually defeating Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Londero 6-3, 6-4 to reach the third round at the event he has won seven times.
“I’m very happy, even if it was a bit tricky with the rain delay,” Federer said. “I’m happy to be back on court.
“This is the start of a long, long hardcourt swing. It’s good to begin with a win.
“I didn’t know that much about my opponent – he’s new to the tour – but at the end you have to concentrate on your own game.”
Defending champion Djokovic double faulted three times as he dropped serve in the opening game against Sam Querrey but quickly put things right and pulled away for a 7-5, 6-1 victory over the American.
“I ended the match well even if the start was nervy,” said Djokovic, who would break Querrey twice to take the first set then roll to victory.

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