More Sports / Tennis

Yasutaka Uchiyama claims first win to set up Cilic matchup at Japan Open

Kyodo

Yasutaka Uchiyama progressed to the second round of the Japan Open by beating Croat qualifier Franko Skugor on Monday.

Uchiyama, ranked 214th in the world, defeated No. 324 Skugor 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, earning his first win in the main singles draw of an ATP tour event.

Uchiyama broke Skugor’s serve in the second game of the first set before rain halted play at Ariake Tennis Forest Park.

With the match even after Skugor won the second set, Uchiyama broke in the fourth game of the final set and never trailed after that, wrapping it up in 2 hours, 4 minutes.

“I have no words to express how happy I am,” said Uchiyama, who is in the draw as a wildcard. “I’ve had the chance to play in this tournament every year, but I’ve never won. So I’m really happy.”

In the second round, Uchiyama will face Croatia’s top-seeded Marin Cilic, who defeated Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-2 in 1 hour, 13 minutes.

“I have nothing to lose, so I’ll just put everything I have into the match and compete,” Uchiyama said.

No. 5 Cilic is gunning for his first Japan Open title after reaching the 2016 semifinals and the 2015 quarterfinals.

“The last two years have been great. Hopefully, I will play well this year.”

Earlier in the day, Go Soeda failed to win his first match in the Japan Open, making a first-round exit after losing in straight sets to Adrian Mannarino of France.

Soeda, a wild card currently ranked 143rd in the world, lost to No. 31 Mannarino 7-5, 7-6(3). Soeda was playing in the tournament for the 12th time, but his experience didn’t count for much in their 1-hour, 44-minute encounter.

The two previously met once, in 2015 when Soeda won in straight sets, but Mannarino dominated this match and had 10 aces to Soeda’s three.

Mannarino, who at Wimbledon defeated Japan’s Yuichi Sugita, will face either Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic or seventh seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain in the second round.

Yusuke Takahashi, ranked 262nd, lost to No. 52 Ryan Harrison 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in a match that lasted more than two hours.