MONTE, CARLO - Kei Nishikori cruised into the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters with a straight-sets victory Wednesday over Daniil Medvedev of Russia.
A former world No. 4, Nishikori struggled with his serve early before he found his range and took control for a 7-5, 6-2 win in their first career meeting.
Nishikori, now ranked 36th, battled back from 15-40 to win his first service game against world No. 49 Medvedev before surrendering a break point to go down 3-1. The 28-year-old Nishikori immediately broke back, however, then saved another break point the following game before leveling the score at 3-3.
After Medvedev faulted on break point at 5-5, Nishikori attacked his second serve with a perfectly timed backhand winner to go up 6-5 and position himself to serve out the set.
Nishikori set the tone for the second set by breaking his 22-year-old opponent’s serve in the opening game.
Despite still feeling the effects of the right wrist injury that prematurely ended his 2017 season last August, Nishikori showed nice touch with his shot placement throughout the match, making the 198-cm Medvedev run the width of the court.
“My attacking play was better than in the first round,” Nishikori said, referring to his opening round victory over the Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych.
“It was a little dangerous at one point in the first set, but I got the break at 5-5. I’m glad I was able to hang in there.”
Nishikori returned to competition in January and is using the April 15-22 Monte-Carlo Masters to prepare on clay ahead of the French Open, which gets under way on May 27.