Kei Nishikori defeated two-time ATP Tour titlist Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4, 7-6(3) on Monday evening to reach the second round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. It is the Japanese star’s first win since the 2019 US Open, where he reached the third round.
“Very happy to win. I think winning is most important for now. I need to get a lot of confidence. It’s been a long time since the US Open last year,” Nishikori said on court after his victory. “Happy to go through. It wasn’t maybe perfect yet, but hopefully one by one I’ll get better.”
The 30-year-old is working his way back from right elbow surgery, which he had lost October. Nishikori needed six match points to finish off the Spaniard, triumphing after two hours and four minutes. He saved the two break points he faced against Ramos-Vinolas and converted one of the 10 break points he earned.
“I tried to be aggressive when I could. He hits a lot of topspin balls, so it’s not easy,” said Nishikori, who has never lost his opening match in Rome. “But I tried to have good defence and good offence.”
Nishikori could next play three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, who faces Italian qualifier Lorenzo Musetti in his first-round match Tuesday.
Reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner cruised past Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-2, 6-1 in 64 minutes. Last May, the Italian claimed his maiden ATP Masters 1000 victory at the Foro Italico against Steve Johnson before losing against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Sinner will have a chance to get revenge against the third seed in the next round. The Italian will try to earn his second Top 10 win when he faces Tsitsipas.
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US Open quarter-finalist Borna Coric maintained his momentum against 14th seed Cristian Garin, eliminating the Chilean 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and seven minutes. Frenchman Ugo Humbert defeated two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson 6-3, 7-6(5) in his Rome debut. He will try to upset seventh seed Fabio Fognini in the second round.
Also advancing was Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, who battled past Brit Daniel Evans 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 after two hours and 28 minutes.