ROME – World No. 6 Kei Nishikori came from a set down to defeat Viktor Troicki 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 in their Italian Open second-round match on Tuesday.
Although the 24th ranked Serb uncorked 10 aces in the Masters event, he was only able to win 41 percent of his second serves in a 1-hour, 55-minute match that left Nishikori gassed.
Nishikori, who has lost just twice this year to lower-ranked opponents, beat Troicki for the fourth time since the Serb won their initial encounter in Tokyo in 2010.
“Going to three sets made it a grueling match,” said Nishikori, who is coming off a semifinal defeat to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic at the Madrid Open last week.
“I was feeling some fatigue left over from last week, but I’m off tomorrow and I’ll be able to rest up. Since last week, I’ve been playing well and had some pretty good points today.”
Through 11 games on the red clay at Foro Italico, neither player faced a break point, but after Troicki survived deuce to hold serve and go up 6-5, Nishikori’s serve let him down. Troicki moved out to a 40-0 lead and converted his third set point when a Nishikori backhand went just long.
Nishikori summoned the trainer for treatment between sets, but showed no ill effects on the court. Five missed first serves by Troicki allowed Nishikori to win his first break point of the match and take a 2-1 lead.
The Japanese sixth seed broke again in the seventh game and held serve, winning his second set point to pull even.
Nishikori’s precision began to tilt the balance of the match his way in the fourth game of the final set as he painted the lines with his strokes and Troicki began pressing. After holding serve in a love game, Nishikori broke to go up 3-2 and held serve easily again to take a commanding 4-2 lead.