WASHINGTON: Japan’s Kei Nishikori, fighting off fatigue and disappointment after an Olympic quarter-final loss, defeated American Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-3 on Monday to advance at the ATP Citi Open.
Nishikori, the 2016 Rio Olympic singles bronze medallist, became the first man to reach three consecutive Olympic quarter-finals before falling to top-ranked Novak Djokovic in Tokyo.
He rebounded by flying to Washington and won the first night match at the US Open hardcourt tune-up event.
Nishikori, the 2015 Washington champion, faces ninth seed Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan in the second round. The winner could meet top seed Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals.
Nishikori, ranked 67th, broke in the ninth game and held again when 68th-ranked Querrey sent a backhand long to capture the first set in 40 minutes.
In the second set, Nishikori denied Querrey on five break points to hold for 3-3, then broke twice for the victory, a backhand return winner ending matters after 86 minutes.
Nishikori, 31, seized a 7-4 edge in the career rivalry with his sixth win in seven matches, a run that began with a 2014 Washington victory.
Querrey, 33, reached his first ATP final in two years at Mallorca in June, losing to Russian Daniil Medvedev, but is on a five-match losing streak.
US 20-year-old wildcard Jenson Brooksby ousted 75th-ranked Kevin Anderson of South Africa 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 in a rematch of last month’s Newport final.
Brooksby, ranked 130th, won the last six points of the tie-breaker, taking the first set when Anderson sent a backhand wide.
Brooksby next play 16th seed and local hero Frances Tiafoe in the second round.
American Olympian Marcos Giron, ranked 64th, booked a date with British seventh seed Cameron Norrie by eliminating Ukraine’s Illya Marchenko 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1).
Giron lost to Nishikori in the second round of the Olympics.
Italy’s Andreas Seppi battled back to defeat Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. Seppi next meets Canadian second seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, whom he ousted in this year’s first round at Roland Garros.
Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2021