Nishikori cruises in Melbourne opener


Kei Nishikori started the first Grand Slam of 2016 with a straight-sets win over Philipp Kohlschreiber in Melbourne on Monday.

The seven-seeded Nishikori was solid on serve throughout the match, giving up no break points in the 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 Australian Open first-round win.

“My serve was good, but my opponent was very tough,” said Nishikori. “He should have been seeded, and so that’s why I had to concentrate.”

On service return, Nishikori was able to pressure his German world No. 34 opponent, forcing him to give up eight break point opportunities, of which Nishikori was able to claim four.

Nishikori only served five aces to his opponent’s eight in the 1 hour, 55 minute match, but that did not stop him pushing Kohlschreiber on service. The Japanese world No. 7 took away one of his opponent’s main strengths, allowing him to win 68 percent of points on first serve and just 38 percent of second-serve points.

“I was able to maintain composure throughout the match and in the next game I want to continue that way,” Nishikori said.

Nishikori will face unseeded United States player Austin Krajicek in his next match before a possible third-round meeting with French ninth-seed Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.

The victory occurred on a day when allegations of tennis match-fixing were reported by the BBC and BuzzFeed News. The report said 16 players who have ranked in the top 50 lost matches that bore the hallmarks of being fixed.

“That’s got nothing to do with me,” Nishikori said. “I can’t comprehend why anyone would do that.”

Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka made his Australian Open debut a brief one, losing 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, 6-4 to Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas.

In the women’s draw, Kurumi Nara reached the second round for the first time in two years thanks to a 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 win over Frenchwoman Oceane Dodin.

Nao Hibino, ranked 56th in the world, was wiped out 6-1, 6-3 by Russian fifth seed Maria Sharapova.