Japan’s Kei Nishikori backed up his run to the Washington semi-finals last week by passing Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2 on Tuesday to reach the second round of the National Bank Open presented by Rogers in Toronto.
The world number 55, who qualified for the final in Toronto in 2016, hit the ball with great depth and precision, raising his level in the decider to advance in two hours and 10 minutes. The 31-year-old will then face seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz.
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“I’m happy to pass,” Nishikori said. “He played really well in the second set, it was really tough. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. [for him] playing at that level throughout the second and third sets, so I waited for him to lower his level a bit. I just tried to stay focused.
“I’m feeling pretty good. I think I’m playing my best tennis of the year in the last two tournaments. I’m happy with my result last week and did well at the Olympics as well.”
Nishikori beat Briton Cameron Norrie in Washington en route to his first semi-final appearance since Barcelona in 2019. The 12-time titlist played with renewed confidence against Kecmanovic to level their ATP Head2Head streak to 1-1.
After a tight start in the first set, Nishikori took control in Game 5 by taking the only break point of the set to take the 3-2 advantage. The 31-year-old entered the baseline to dictate with his forehand as he moved Kecmanovic onto the pitch to lead.
The Serbian responded well early in the second set as he played aggressively to force Nishikori to make mistakes to lead 2-0. However, Nishikori responded immediately, tying 2-2 before the set went into a tie-break. Kecmanovic then kept his 5/5 cool in the tie-break, forcing a decider when Nishikori hit a backhand into the net. It was one-way traffic in the third set, as Nishikori led 4-0. He won the last eight points, serving his victory.
Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili also advanced in Toronto on Tuesday, beating #NextGenATP American Jenson Brooksby 2-6, 6-0, 6-4, denying the 20-year-old a victory on his ATP Masters 1000 debut.
Basilashvili, who won titles in Doha and Munich this year, beat Brooksby six times to advance in one hour and 52 minutes to 2-0 in his ATP Head2Head series.
Brooksby has been in great shape recently. The wild card qualified for the Newport Finals in July on their ATP Tour debut and reached the Washington semi-finals last week. As a result, Brooksby has gone from outside the Top 200 in the FedEx ATP Rankings to a career high No.99 in the past four months.
However, Basilashvili assured the 20-year-old would not enjoy another dream run this week as he improved on the return throughout the game. The 29-year-old won just 18% (2/11) of points on Brooksby’s first serve in the first set, but improved to 58% (7/12) in the second set. Basilashvili found the decisive break in the ninth game of the third set and will next face 12th seed Alex de Minaur.