Kei Nishikori came through a tough test against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez to book his spot in the fourth round of the Australian Open.
The seventh seed was bidding to make it to the last 16 of the Australian Open for the fifth consecutive time, and while he didn’t always play his best tennis he was able to notch up a 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory on Margaret Court Arena.
It was the 26th-seeded Garcia-Lopez who took the early edge, breaking Nishikori in the seventh game of the opener to go 4-3 up. The Spaniard couldn’t hold onto the break for long though, with Nishikori breaking back in the tenth game before grabbing the decisive second break to win the set 7-5.
Nishikori received treatment on his right wrist after the opener, and it appeared to be a constant source of annoyance for him, one which would be addressed again in the second set.
Garcia-Lopez cut his error count significantly in the second set and in combination with a much-improved first serve it paid dividends. Nishikori was broken in the opening game of the set, and again in the fifth game before Garcia-Lopez converted his first set point to level matters at one set all.
Having won just 53 percent of points on his points on his own serve in the second set, Nishikori looked a tad more comfortable in the third but continued to struggle with his first serve.
It was solid more than spectacular, but a break in the sixth game saw Nishikori go 4-2 up, and advantage he would hold onto to take the set 6-3.
Throughout the contest one wondered when – or if – Nishikori would up his game to the next level, and in the fourth set he at last started to do so. The Japan ace surrendered just one point on his serve in the opening stages of the fourth set, while breaking Garcia-Lopez in the third game to wrestle the initiative away from his opponent.
While the Nishikori serve trailed off somewhat as the set progressed, handing Garcia-Lopez two break points in the seventh game, the crowd favourite was able to hang on to record the victory.
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