WASHINGTON – Kei Nishikori won his opening match on the pre-U.S. Open hard-court circuit, beating Sam Querrey of the United States 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 Wednesday in the second round of the Citi Open.
Fourth-seeded Nishikori, who received a first-round bye, was playing for the first time since losing in the fourth round at Wimbledon.
Nishikori, seeking his sixth career title and third of the year, fired nine aces against 12 by Querrey in advancing after 1 hour and 52 minutes.
“It was tough. He was serving great,” said Nishikori. “I have to take a little chance when he’s serving and I did that in the last set.
“I stayed solid from the baseline and concentrated on my service games. It was a good finish. There were some tight moments but I’m very happy with the way I’m playing.”
Nishikori’s next opponent is Lukas Lacko of Slovakia.
Nishikori is currently ranked 11th. Earlier this year, he became the first Japanese man to crack the top 10, rising as high as No. 9.
Top-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic beat qualifier Robby Ginepri 6-1, 6-4 and No. 20-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada, a Wimbledon semifinalist, was tested by 60th-ranked Jack Sock but took the last six points of the first set, and the last five points of the second to win 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-3).
Three seeded men lost when fifth-seeded, two-time runner-up John Isner was beaten 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) by fellow American Steve Johnson, Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic beat No. 8 Feliciano Lopez of Spain 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, and Donald Young of the U.S. eliminated No. 17 Julien Benneteau of France 6-4, 6-3.
Isner, ranked No. 12, hit 29 aces but failed to earn a single break point in his loss to the 68th-ranked Johnson before complaining about playing on a secondary court instead of in the main stadium.
“I didn’t like playing out there,” Isner said of being placed on Grandstand 1, instead of the nearby larger arena, where he contested the finals in 2007 and last year.
“I just didn’t think I deserved to play on that court,” he added. “Simple as that.”
In a statement relayed via a spokesperson, tournament director Jeff Newman said: “Many factors are at play in scheduling decisions, including domestic and international television, and many more. As a player who has played so well here in the past, we can appreciate it’s a tough loss (for Isner), but credit to Steve Johnson for the win.”
In women’s play, Kristina Mladenovic of France beat American qualifier Taylor Townsend 6-3, 6-4, and Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan retired while playing Kurumi Nara of because of a right elbow injury.
Nara was leading 3-6, 6-2, 4-0 when Diyas bowed out.
Injured Nadal pulls out
New York AP
Rafael Nadal withdrew on Wednesday from U.S. Open tuneups in Toronto and Cincinnati because of a right wrist injury, putting in doubt his status for a title defense at the year’s last Grand Slam tournament.
The second-ranked Nadal plays left-handed, but he uses a two-handed backhand.
He said in a statement issued by the Toronto tournament that he injured himself Tuesday.
In a posting on Facebook, Nadal said he is “disappointed” that he can’t play the next two weeks but adds, “I expect to be well for the U.S. Open.”
Nadal’s manager, Benito Perez-Barbadillo, wrote in an emailed release that the Spaniard was hurt in practice on his home island of Mallorca.
Serena wins in return
Stanford California AP
Top-ranked Serena Williams won in her first match since defaulting in a doubles match with sister Venus at Wimbledon, beating Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 6-2 on Wednesday night in the second round of the Bank of the West Classic.
At Wimbledon, Williams tried to play through a viral infection that caused her to lose her equilibrium during the doubles match. On Wednesday night, encouraged by a large crowd, Williams fought through a tough first set before she found her legs and took control of the match with a big second set.
“I thought I played well,” Williams said. “I’m on the right path, I’m excited and I’m looking forward to my next match.”
In the quarterfinals, Williams will meet the winner of Thursday’s match between fifth-seeded Ana Ivanovic and qualifier Carol Zhao.
Earlier, Varvara Lepchenko beat second-seeded Angieszka Radwanska 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 to advance to the quarterfinals.