MELBOURNE (AFP) – Japan’s Kei Nishikori and Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco scored a pair of opening victories amid a “little typhoon” to begin final Australian Open preparations at the Kooyong Classic on Wednesday.
US Open finalist Nishikori fought past a tough Australian challenge from Jordan Thompson to post a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4) result while Verdasco beat Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-2, 7-6 (7/4).
Nishikori, ranked fifth in the world, was forced to work hard in swirling conditions at Kooyong Club for just over two hours.
The eight-man warm-up event for the Australian Open starting on Monday is considered prime preparation for the first major of the season.
Verdasco also took charge of his game as he was tested by the weather.
The 33rd-ranked Spaniard collected the first set against Simon in 27 minutes and thwarted the Frenchman as Simon served to level at a set each.
Instead, he was broken to love, with Verdasco eventually winning a tie-breaker on a concluding Simon backhand error.
Nishikori came to Kooyong after a semi-final last weekend in Brisbane, where he lost to Canadian Milos Raonic in three tie-break sets.