Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic advanced to the second round of the Rakuten Japan Open with little drama on Monday.
Nishikori was up against fellow countryman Yuichi Sugita, where he held his nerve to save six out of seven break points and overcome him 6-4, 6-1 on the courts of the Ariake Tennis Forest Park.
The Japanese star needed just one break to claim the opening set and he took that momentum into the second set, as he found himself 3-0 up after a double break.
Sugita put up some resistance to bring it back to 3-1, but a ruthless Nishikori reeled off the final three games in quick succession to advance.
Lookin' O-Kei. 👍
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) 1 October 2018
“It’s never easy playing a friend, especially in Japan,” said the third seed on court afterwards.
“I think we both don’t want to play each other, but I think I handled it well. I felt a little pressure in the beginning, but I started feeling better in the second set. Overall I was happy with my tennis today.”
Sixth seed Raonic fired 17 aces in his routine 6-3, 6-4 win over Adrian Mannarino, booking him a second round clash with qualifier Yosuke Watanuki, who beat, Robin Hasse in three sets earlier in the day.
Elsewhere, Denis Shapovalov surprised seventh seed Chung Hyeon 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 to reach the next round, while rising star Daniil Medvedev knocked out fourth seed Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-4.