Nishikori wins Kooyong opener

Losing US Open finalist Nishikori overcame the challenge of Australia’s Jordan Thompson 6-4 3-6 7-6 after a long struggle in difficult conditions, strong gusty winds badly affecting both players.

The eight-man tournament had been due to start on Tuesday but the matches were called off because of rain.

“It was tough for both of us – like a little typhoon out there,” said Nishikori, who is wrapping up his preparations for next week’s Australian Open.

“Conditions made it tough to play.??It was difficult for me to be aggressive. But I played a good tie-break and I’m happy to win today.”

Verdasco had a much easier task in winning his first match as he saw off the challenge of Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-2 7-6.

The Spaniard cruised through the opening set with a couple of breaks, but he had to dig a little deeper to beat Simon in the second, breaking him to love as he served to level the match before winning the tie-break 7-4.

“This wind is tough for everyone,” Verdasco said. “You need to be focused and hit every ball with confidence – if not it flies everywhere.??

“Despite the conditions, this is perfect preparation for the Open. I like the hot conditions but you never know here.”

The other two winners were France’s Richard Gasquet, who beat Feliciano Lopez 7-6 3-6 6-2, and Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov, a 6-4 6-3 winner over Filip Krajinovic.