PARIS – Lacking his usual speed and quickness, Kei Nishikori could only put up a brave fight in a 6-2, 6-0, 5-7, 6-4 fourth-round French Open loss to Dominic Thiem on Sunday.
Unable to chase down tough balls, all the 28-year-old Nishikori had going for him was his shot making.
Too often, however, Thiem was able to place shots just out of Nishikori’s reach. The win was the seventh-seeded Thiem’s first over Nishikori in three career matches.
The 24-year-old Thiem dominated early with accurate serves, and broke Nishikori’s serve in the match’s third game. Nishikori came close to holding serve in the seventh, when Thiem had a triple break point, but the 19th-seeded Japanese star could not hold the Austrian off.
The second set opened with Thiem winning the first eight points. Nishikori rallied in the third game, which went to deuce five times before he was broken again and won just two points over the final three games.
Nishikori took the third set only because Thiem went through a stretch where he made error after error.
In the fourth set, too, Nishikori fought on, benefitting from Thiem’s unforced errors while looking visibly frustrated at being unable to stay in rallies. One of those points, when Nishikori could only flail at a ball down the line, brought up Thiem’s first break point and Nishikori appeared about to smash his racket before stopping himself.
On the second match point, Nishikori hit a return long to end the 2-hour, 28-minute struggle.