MIAMI – World No. 4 Kei Nishikori advanced to the third round of the Miami Open after defeating Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-4, 6-3 on Friday.
Second seed Nishikori, who reached the semifinals in 2014 before a runner-up finish last year, only had one ace to eight from Anderson, but didn’t let his 74th-ranked counterpart break once in an encounter lasting 1 hour and 28 minutes.
Nishikori faces 25th seed Fernando Verdasco next after the Spaniard beat qualifier Ernesto Escobedo of the United States 7-6 (11-9), 7-5.
“The wind was strong and I couldn’t take full swings, but it was a really good match to open a tournament,” Nishikori said. “I managed to break early in both sets and I believe that put him under more pressure.
“I was returning well and that also led to good plays elsewhere. I made few mistakes and I was perfect in almost every aspect of the game.”
The absence of the top two in the world rankings, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, both through right elbow injuries, sees Nishikori start as the second seed — the highest to date for the 27-year-old in the ATP World Tour Masters 1000. But he played down the significance as he eyes his first trophy in the series.
“I think it is a good chance to some degree, but I’m not bothered by that too much,” he said.
Yoshihito Nishioka led 13th seed Jack Sock of the U.S 4-2 in the first set but withdrew after hurting his left knee.