MELBOURNE, Australia – Kei Nishikori made a first-round exit in his Australian Open debut on Tuesday with a straight-sets loss to 31st-seeded Jurgen Melzer of Austria.
Nishikori failed to capitalize on two set points on Melzer’s serve at 5-3 in the first set, and the left-handed Austrian roared back and clinched the set 7-5 with a forehand cross-court winner.
Melzer picked up early breaks to win the next two sets 6-2, 6-1.
“I made too many mistakes, and it was like I had no idea what to do,” said Nishikori, who committed 46 unforced errors against Melzer’s 26. His serve was broken seven times in the match.
“I had a hard time with the wind, rather than the heat. But first and foremost, I didn’t prepare well enough for the match as my right elbow was sore.”
The 19-year-old hurt his elbow at the season-opening Brisbane International in Australia and retired in the first round of the Heineken Open in New Zealand the following week because of the injury.
In women’s first-round play, Ayumi Morita fell to Tatjana Malek of Germany 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, leaving veteran Ai Sugiyama the only Japanese player left in singles competition.
Morita blew a 5-3 lead in the first set and said after the match, “The biggest factor in the loss was that I wasn’t aggressive enough against her slice backhand. I didn’t hit the ball hard or come to the net. I couldn’t move fast, either.”
In other action, Serena and Venus Williams both advanced to the second round, while Andy Murray won his first-round match when Andrei Pavel of Romania retired with a back injury while trailing 6-2, 3-1.
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