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Nishikori Wins First Match In Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan

Kei NishikoriAFP/Getty ImagesKei Nishikori In Action

Japanese teenager Kei Nishikori (pictured) notched his first match win at the AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships, as he came through to defeat American Robert Kendrick 7-6(3), 6-7(5), 6-2 in two hours and three minutes on Tuesday in Tokyo.

The opening sets featured no break point opportunities with the two players both impressive on serve: Nishikori won 83 per cent of his first serve points through the first two sets while Kendrick fired 16 of his 18 total aces. But Nishikori pulled away in the third set, denying the American his two chances to break while capitalizing on two of his three opportunities.

Last year on his Tokyo debut, Nishikori had lost in the first round to American Zack Fleishman. Since that appearance, he has jumped from No. 253 to No. 84 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings. In February, the 18-year-old won his first ATP title with an upset over James Blake in the Delray Beach final.

Nishikori, who is making his first appearance since reaching a Grand Slam-best fourth round at the US Open, next faces 16th-seeded Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

Dudi Sela, who became the first Israeli since Harel Levy at Nottingham in 2001 to reach an ATP-level final at Beijing last week (l. to Roddick), made a confident start to his Tokyo campaign by beating Bjorn Phau of Germany 7-5, 6-1 in 75 minutes. The 23-year-old Tel Aviv resident improved to 16-21 on the season and will next meet fifth-seeded Argentine Juan Martin del Potro.

In other first round action on day two, American Jesse Levine set up a second round clash against top-seeded defending champion David Ferrer, currently No. 7 in the ATP 2008 Race, after beating Thai qualifier Danai Udomchoke 4-6, 6-1, 6-0. Wayne Odesnik won an all-American battle over Kevin Kim 6-4, 6-3, while Italian Flavio Cipolla knocked out Ivan Navarro of Spain 7-6(5), 7-6(4). Cipolla will challenge No. 8 seed Mikhail Youzhny.

Croat Roko Karanusic eased past Hiroki Kondo 6-2, 6-2 to set up a second round meeting with No. 9 seed Tomas Berdych, while Australian Joseph Sirianni beat Yuichi Ito 6-3, 6-2. Sirianni next faces No. 6 seed Tommy Robredo.


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