RAKUTEN OPEN 2013
Nishikori Stages Stunning Comeback
by Tournament Staff|
Kei Nishikori looked to be heading into the history books again on Tuesday as only the second defending champion to lose in the first round of the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships.
When 32-year-old Jurgen Melzer served for the match at 7-6(4), 5-3, 30/30 the nation of Japan watched in silence.
Nishikori, who has his image emblazoned across Tokyo, realised the enormity of the situation and blazed a remarkable comeback by taking a series of calculated risks that put Melzer on the back foot.
The Japanese star, who beat Milos Raonic in the 2012 final, won 11 of the last 13 games to complete a 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-2 victory in two hours and eight minutes.
"There were a few dangerous moments for me so I'm glad to come through," said Nishikori. "As the defending champion, it was good to pull out the win under pressure like that."
Only 2009 champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has lost his first match at the Ariake Coliseum the following year.
Eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic improved to 20-20 on the season after he saved all eight break points he faced in a 6-7(6), 6-1, 6-4 win over Victor Hanescu, who was making his debut at the ATP World Tour 500 event. Hanescu, 32, has now been beaten in the first round of his past five tournaments.
Early action had been affected due to rain showers.
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