Almagro Prevails in 5-Set Battle, Nishikori through in Straight Sets

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11th seed Nicolas Almagro was forced to grit it out in a 5-set match against 106th ranked Philipp Petzschner today as the threat of an upset loomed.  The match started out routinely enough, with Almagro nabbing the only break of the first set to take it at 6-3.  From there, the battle began.  With both players struggling on their serve in the 2nd set, breaks of serve from both ends started appearing.

A notoriously streaky player, Petzschner has been ranked as high as 35 in the world, though he has never progressed beyond the 3rd round of a grand slam.  A two-time doubles grand slam champion, the German was the risk-taker in the 2nd and 3rd sets, charging the net 23 times in the same timespan.  Almagro couldn’t cope with Petzschner’s tactics and fell behind to 6-3, 5-7, 5-7.

In danger of dropping out of the tournament, Almagro regained his composure in the 4th set. Despite a 1st serve percentage under 50%, he was able to create opportunities to hit winners, hitting 13 in the 4th set alone.  That was enough for Almagro to score a break and subsequently the 4th set at 6-4.  In the deciding 5th set, Almagro stuck with the same game plan and things progressed accordingly.  After nearly 3 and a half hours of play a relieved Almagro came away with the victory in 5 sets.  The score was 6-3, 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.  The Spaniard will now play either Jack Sock of the USA or Flavio Cipolla in the 3rd round.

In an earlier 2nd round action, Japanese no. 1 Kei Nishikori had a much easier time with Tim Smyczek.  The 17th seed Nishikori has won both of his matches in straight sets and will most likely play 12th seed Marin Cilic in the 3rd round in what could be a very interesting matchup.

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