• Kyodo News

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KADOMA — Kei Nishikori helped his country to a 2-0 lead with a straight sets victory in a zonal meeting against China in the Davis Cup on Friday.

Nishikori, currently ranked 97th in the world, faced Zhang Ze in the second match of the opening-day singles at Namihaya Dome sub arena and beat his 858th-ranked opponent 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 in the second round of Asia/Oceania Group 1.

With Go Soeda’s 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 victory over Zeng Shaoxuan in the day’s opening match, Japan moved to within one win of advancing to the third round in the World Group promotion/relegation playoff.

Satoshi Iwabuchi will team up with Takao Suzuki in Saturday’s doubles against Zeng and Zhang.

Nishikori stepped into the limelight last year when he became the first Japanese winner on the ATP Tour in 16 years with a victory at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships and later earned a call-up for a Davis Cup meeting against India.

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