Tennis

Kei Nishikori suffers shock loss in second round of Dubai Championships

Kyodo

Top seed Kei Nishikori crashed out in the second round of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Wednesday with a 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 loss to 77th-ranked Hubert Hurkacz of Poland.

In their first career meeting, the 22-year-old Hurkacz served nine aces and double faulted just once to upset the favorite from Japan in 2 hours and 3 minutes.

World No. 6 Nishikori, on the other hand, struggled with his serve, hitting four double faults and a solitary ace at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.

“I didn’t make my first serve when it mattered, but more than that, I just couldn’t find a rhythm,” the 29-year-old Nishikori said.

“My opponent played well, whereas I was unable to play flawless tennis.”

Both players held serve in the first set until the ninth game, when Nishikori secured the break to go up 5-4. But Hurkacz won the next three games to take the set.

Nishikori looked in control of the second set at 5-1, but his opponent rattled off four straight games to level at 5-5. The U.S. Open semifinalist broke Hurkacz in the 11th game before holding serve to even the match at a set apiece.

At 1-1 in the deciding set, Hurkacz won three games in a row to take control of the contest.

Nishikori, coming off a semifinal loss to Stan Wawrinka at the Rotterdam Open, beat France’s Benoit Paire 6-4, 6-3 in the opening round on Tuesday.