Tennis

Kei Nishikori motors into second round at U.S. Open

Kyodo

Kei Nishikori advanced to the second round of the U.S. Open on Monday after Marco Trungelliti retired with an injury in the second set of their match.

The seventh-seeded Nishikori had a trouble-free start to his campaign for a first Grand Slam title as he took the opening set off Trungelliti 6-1, and was up 4-1 in the second set when the Argentine qualifier retired, 47 minutes into the match.

“What I want most right now is confidence,” Nishikori said.

“I wanted to end the match with a convincing win. To be honest, I wanted to play longer to get my feel for the game back and enjoy the game-day nerves,” he said.

Nishikori, ranked No. 7 in the world, is playing in his first tournament since crashing out of the second round of the Western & Southern Open, also known as the Cincinnati Masters, earlier this month.

The 29-year-old has posted his best Grand Slam performances at the hard-court major in New York, reaching the final in 2014 and advancing to the semifinals twice.

Last year, Nishikori was knocked out in the semifinals by Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in straight sets. Djokovic went on to claim the men’s title, while Naomi Osaka won the women’s singles crown.

Nishikori’s compatriot Yoshihito Nishioka booked his place in the second round by coming from a set down to beat American opponent Marcos Giron 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Top seed and world No. 1 Osaka was to face No. 84 Anna Blinkova of Russia in her first-round match on Tuesday.

In her first match at the U.S. Open since last year’s loss in a chaotic, controversial final, Serena Williams stretched her winning streak against Sharapova to 19 matches with a nearly flawless performance that produced a 6-1, 6-1 victory.

Asked whether she could even imagine losing that many matches in a row across 15 years against one opponent, Williams paused for a moment, then replied: “Gosh, I never thought about it like that.”

She now leads their all-time head-to-head series 20-2.

“Every time I come up against her,” Williams said, “I just bring out some of my best tennis.”

Sure did this time; the whole thing lasted all of 59 minutes.

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