Nishikori comes up aces, rolls into third round in Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Kei Nishikori wants to extend a Grand Slam sequence. He’s not making it easy at the Australian Open.

Eighth-seeded Nishikori withstood 59 aces from Ivo Karlovic, and had to save three break points deep in the fifth, before beating the 39-year-old Croatian 6-3, 7-6 (6), 5-7, 5-7, 7-6 (7) yesterday to reach the third round.

After missing last year’s Australian Open because of injury, Nishikori reached the fourth round at the French Open, the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and the semi-finals in New York, losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the last two.

He reached a career-high number four ranking in March, 2015 – a record for an Asian player in Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) rankings history – and his runner-up finish at the 2014 United States Open made him the first man from Asia to reach a Grand Slam final.

Already with a title in Brisbane to open 2019, he’s starting to believe he’s ready for the next step.

But after twice being taken to five sets – he lost the first two sets of his opening match but won 15 of the next 17 games before Kamil Majchrzak retired while trailing 3-0 in the fifth – he’d prefer to take a direct route through the third round.

He next plays Joao Sousa, who beat number 32 Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4.

Japan’s Kei Nishikori celebrates after defeating Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic during their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia yesterday. – AP