Japan’s Kei Nishikori cruised through his Shanghai Masters opener on Tuesday just 48 hours after making history in Tokyo as America’s big-serving John Isner saved three match points to progress.
Nishikori, who became the first Japanese player to win the Japan Open on Sunday, eased past China’s Wu Di 6-2, 6-4 in his first-round match.
“Obviously, it’s not easy to play (so soon) after winning the tournament,” said the 22-year-old, who is at a career-high of number 15 in the rankings after his success in front of home fans.
“We both were serving exceptionally well. It came down to a few points here or there, and I was able to pull it out. It was looking bleak for a little bit”
“But I had a good day today. I love to play here,” said the 14th seed, who reached the semi-finals in Shanghai last year, losing to eventual champion Andy Murray of Britain.
Nishikori’s weekend win over Canada’s Milos Raonic was his first on the Tour since the 2008 Delray Beach title, sharply raising expectations that Asia had uncovered a potential world-beater.
In a battle of two giants, eighth seed John Isner was forced to dig deep to save three match points to win a second-round match containing three tie-breaks and keep alive his outside chance of qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals.
Isner booked his place in the third round by beating South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (8/10), 7-6 (9/7) in two hours and 45 minutes.
In a match featuring 45 aces and no service breaks, Anderson, at 6ft 8ins tall, squandered match points at 6-4 and 7-6 in the third set tie-break.
“We both were serving exceptionally well. It came down to a few points here or there, and I was able to pull it out. It was looking bleak for a little bit,” said Isner, who is an inch taller than his opponent.
Croatian 10th seed Marin Cilic joined Isner in the third round after defeating Slovakia’s Martin Klizan, the recent St Petersburg Open champion.
But seventh seed Juan Monaco of Argentina failed to reach the third round, crashing out 6-4, 6-2 at the hands of former top ten player Fernando Verdasco of Spain, in the late match.
In first-round action there were straight-sets wins for 12th seed Raonic and Stanislas Wawrinka, the 13th seed from Switzerland. France’s Gilles Simon knocked out Jurgen Melzer of Austria 6-4, 6-2.
Defeated Australian teenager Bernard Tomic admitted he had given only “85 percent” in his 6-4, 6-0 defeat to Florian Mayer.
His Shanghai flop comes just weeks after he was branded “disgraceful” by his Davis Cup team captain Pat Rafter following his 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 US Open defeat at the hands of Andy Roddick.
Tomic admitted he only gave “about 85 percent”, adding: “Today I gave 100 percent in the first set. I felt in the second set, my 100 percent wasn’t even close to where it should be… the mental skill is one of my biggest problems.”
And China’s Zhang Ze, who last week stunned Richard Gasquet in the China Open, could not produce fireworks for a second consecutive week, slipping to a comprehensive 6-0, 6-2 defeat at the hands of Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun.