In a match that could be considered the antithesis of his opening match at the French Open last season, Kei Nishikori avoided a second consecutive first round exit at Roland Garros with a solid victory on Sunday afternoon. The Japanese No. 1 will next come up against Thomaz Bellucci. This is set to be the first time that these two competitors will cross paths on the professional tour and could make for an intriguing contest on Wednesday.
In a relatively straightforward affair, Kei Nishikori advanced to the second round of the French Open with a straight sets win against Paul-Henri Mathieu. The Japanese star struck seven aces, 34 winners and converted seven break point opportunities to close out the match 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 in two hours and 10 minutes.
“I think it was solid match,” said Nishikori. “In the second set he started playing much better. He was hitting the ball pretty well, especially his backhand. But after that I was playing some good tennis on the court and I think it’s not easy to win in straight sets. So there are some ups and downs and I think I fought through pretty well.”
Nishikori will next come up against Thomaz Bellucci, who reached the second round of the tournament with a straight sets victory against Marinko Matosevic. The Brazilian, who won the Geneva Open just a few days ago, struck five aces, 29 winners and converted seven break points to close out the match 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.
This marks the first time that Bellucci and Nishikori will come across each other on the professional tour. However, they did meet once previously on the Challenger circuit several years ago, where Bellucci defeated the Japanese No. 1 in three sets back in 2007. However, much has changed and unless Bellucci produces one of the best matches of his career, he is unlikely to topple NIshikori this time around.
Prediction: Kei Nishikori in Four Sets