HALLE, GERMANY – Third seed Kei Nishikori battled his way through to the second round of the Gerry Weber Open after beating his tournament doubles partner Fernando Verdasco of Spain 6-7 (7-9), 6-3, 6-4 on Tuesday.
Nishikori, ranked ninth in the world, came from a set down to beat the 34th-ranked Spaniard at the French Open on June 5 and again trailed here on the grass court, Verdasco winning the tie-break to claim the opening set after neither player managed a break.
Verdasco had 14 aces to Nishikori’s four during the meeting, but struggled with his serve in the second set. Nishikori seized the first break of the match en route to tying the match at one set apiece.
Nishikori again broke first to lead the final set 4-3 before Verdasco had a medical timeout, and there was no way back as Nishikori held his serve for the win in 2 hours, 24 minutes.
Nishikori, who pulled out of the tournament with injuries for the past two years, will next face the winner of the match between Karen Khachanov of Russia and Gilles Simon of France.