Nishikori grinds past Stakhovsky in four sets

Kei Nishikori had to dig deep before defeating Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round of Wimbledon on Wednesday.

The Japanese star, seeded ninth for this year’s tournament, needed almost three and a half hours before emerging a 6-4, 6-7 (7-9), 6-1, 7-6 (8-6) winner over his unseeded Ukranian opponent.

Some erratic play from the former US Open finalist, which has dogged him all season, made life harder than it needed to be.

Also making matters difficult was a flying ant infestation at the All-England Club, which saw players having to frequently swat away the insects with their racquets.

Nishikori looked well on his way after taking the first set reasonably comfortably courtesy of two breaks to one.

But Stakhovsky seized the initiative in the second, conjuring up a break for a 4-2 lead. Nishikori was able to claw his way back into the set and force a tie-breaker, but it was Stakhovsky who would go on to narrowly win it.

Nishikori regathered himself to take the third set in emphatic fashion courtesy of two straight breaks, but Stakhovsky again proved a tenacious opponent in the fourth set, which passed without a single break or even a break point opportunity for either player.

It was left to another tie-breaker to decide the outcome and Nishikori was able to avoid the strain of a fifth set. He squandered his first two match points but was gifted a third following a Stakhovsky double fault, and made no mistake this time.

“I knew it was going to be a tough match because Sergiy’s best surface is grass,” Nishikori said after the match.

“The last set was very tough. It was hard to get a break.”

The 27-year-old was happy with how his body help up, however, following several injury problems earlier this season.

“I felt very good on the court. I had enough energy for a fifth set as well. I’m very happy to be healthy again,” he added.

Nishikori moves on to face 18th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in round three.

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