Nadal Sets All-Spanish Showdown
by Matt Fitzgerald|
After meeting NBA superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, Rafael Nadal got to work with his 2011 Sony Ericsson Open campaign Saturday night, defeating Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-4, 6-4 in the second round.
The two-time Sony Ericsson Open runner up felt he played a complete match and was satisfied with the way he served. “I'm very happy about how I played. I think I played at a high level tonight,” Nadal said. “The feeling was better than last week, so that's important. My serve worked very well at the end of the match.”
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In the third round, Nadal will square off against friend Feliciano Lopez. Though he’s defeated his compatriot in six of their eight meetings, he knows Lopez has the ability to play superior tennis. “I know it’s going to be a difficult match because he has a very good serve, good volley, and he's very dangerous... but if I play well I’ll have my chances.”
Nishikori, the 21-year-old Japanese player, had his chances against No. 1-seeded Nadal in the opening set. Up 2-1, Nishikori saw his first break point opportunity at 30-40 on the Spaniard’s serve. After failing to convert, another chance arose to break but the Spaniard fought it off. Following the save on serve, the nine-time major champion broke Nishikori to move ahead 3-2 and consolidated it with a routine service game. Nishikori then held and had his second opportunity of the set in the ensuing game, earning two break points. Again, he couldn’t capitalize and Nadal eventually served out the set in 56 minutes.
The second set was equally as competitive but Nadal broke Nishikori in the initial game, which was enough to secure the victory. The Spaniard played the key points on his serve well to deny his Japanese foe any opportunities to equalize the second set, but admitted afterwards that it was a tricky matchup. “Nishikori is a very, very good player. It’s one of these first rounds that you don't want to see… was a difficult one for sure.”
Nadal intends to approach his match against Lopez with an assertive game plan. “I have to play aggressive with my forehand, try to move him, and go to the net when I have the chance,” explained Nadal.
Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych required three sets to get past Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo, but came through 6-1, 6-7(4), 6-0 to advance into the third round. The No. 7 seed overpowered his opponent in the first and third sets, winning 24 of 25 service points. Up next for the Czech is Argentinean Carlos Berlocq, a three-set winner over No. 28 seed Ernests Gulbis.
Janko Tipsarevic upset 18th seeded Marin Cilic in a late day-session match, winning 6-3, 7-6(4). The win gave the spirited Serb his first win over the Croat, after losing their first five meetings, all on hard courts. Awaiting Tipsarevic in the third round is Philipp Petzschner, who took out doubles partner Jurgen Melzer, the No. 10 seed, 6-3, 6-4.