LONDON - Kei Nishikori advanced to the fourth round of Wimbledon on Saturday with a 6-1, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 victory over Australian Nick Kyrgios.
But on a day of mixed fortunes for Japan, Naomi Osaka crashed out of the tournament after losing 6-2, 6-4 to Angelique Kerber of Germany, marking her second straight-sets, third-round defeat at the grass-court major.
It took world no. 28 Nishikori 1 hour, 37 minutes to see off 18th-ranked Kyrgios in the last match of the day for the men’s draw.
“It was the best match I’ve ever had on grass,” said Nishikori. “Everything was working well, very happy to win like this today.”
After breaking Kyrgios’ serve twice to polish off the first set in a mere 16 minutes, a quick break at the beginning of the second set seemed to indicate a swift victory for Nishikori, until a change of racquets seemed to revive Kyrgios’ spirits enough to break back and push his opponent to a tiebreak.
However, Nishikori ultimately took the set with a comfortable 4-point lead and went on to win game, set and match by breaking the Australian at 5-4.
He will advance to the fourth round of Wimbledon for the third time in 10 appearances to face qualifier Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, currently ranked at 138th in the world.
“Gulbis has a great serve and a strong shot on grass,” said former world No. 4 Nishikori. “I think returning his serves will be the key, like it was today.”
Wimbledon is the only grand slam where Nishikori has yet to reach the quarterfinals.
Earlier in the day, it took world No. 10 Kerber 1 hour, 3 minutes to defeat 18th-ranked Osaka, who until the match had not dropped a single set in her 2018 Wimbledon campaign.
“In the end I didn’t fight as much as I wanted to,” said Osaka. “Nothing was really working the way I wanted it to do.
“I need to find a way to win even if there’s nothing working, I think that’s what all the best champions can do,” she added.
Kerber stormed into the lead in a quick first set by breaking Osaka’s initial serve and holding her own to love, followed by another break shortly afterward.
Going on to break Osaka’s first serve to love in the second set, Kerber remained dominant and served out to the end of the match without ever facing a break point.
Osaka said she found playing on Wimbledon’s famous center court overwhelming.
“It was my first time. To go there and not really enjoy the moment, I think that’s the part I regret the most,” she said.
The loss marks the second third-round defeat for Osaka at Wimbledon, who lost in straight sets to Venus William at her debut appearance in 2017.
Novak Djokovic shrugged off a bad call by the chair umpire that cost him a break in his win over home favorite Kyle Edmund.
He was less forgiving when it came to the way he was treated by the crowd at the All England Club.
“There is a certain unwritten borderline where you feel that it’s a bit too much,” Djokovic said about being booed at times by the partisan crowd on Centre Court. “I didn’t deserve to be treated the way I was treated by certain individuals.”
Neither the crowd nor a big mistake by the umpire could unglue Djokovic, though, as the three-time champion won 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the round of 16 for the 11th time at the All England Club.
He was robbed of a break at 3-3, 15-40 in the fourth set when the ball bounced twice before Edmund managed to return it over the net. Djokovic complained to the chair umpire but the call stood — even though TV replays also showed Edmund’s shot had actually landed wide.
Edmund ended up holding serve but Djokovic broke at his next opportunity to make sure there will be no British players in the second week of the tournament.
“I was 100 percent convinced it (bounced) twice,” Djokovic said.
“Anybody can make a mistake. That’s OK. But I don’t understand why he (the umpire) didn’t allow me to challenge the ball. I asked him. . . . So, yes, it was quite a strange decision from (the) chair umpire, but it happens.”
That wasn’t the only point of contention in the match. Djokovic got into a bit of a two-sided argument with the crowd after he was booed following a time violation in the third set. He responded by blowing kisses into the stands.
“I thought the crowd’s reaction after that (time violation) was quite unnecessary,” he said. “A couple (of) guys really, you know, pretending they were coughing and whistling while I was bouncing the ball more or less to the end of the match at that end where I received the time violation.
“Those are the things obviously that people don’t get to see or hear on the TV. I just think it’s not necessary. That’s what I didn’t like. . . . My interaction with the crowd, I thought had good things and not great things. I just reacted the way I thought was fair, the way they reacted to me.”
Edmund, the last British player remaining in the tournament, said he didn’t notice anything disrespectful from the crowd, but acknowledged it was a Davis Cup-like atmosphere.
“It was a great atmosphere to be in,” Edmund said. “When you’re at Centre Court, to have the crowd behind you is a great thing.”