Kuala Lumpur - Kei Nishikori said his crushing recent defeat in the US Open final
left him drained, but Japan's rising tennis star showed no hint of that
on Wednesday, cruising into the Malaysian Open last eight in his return to
The world number eight sent Rajeev Ram of the United States packing in straight sets 6-2, 6-3.
Nishikori was dominant from the start, breaking Ram's serve and controlling the front court.
The top seed soon brought out his trademark baseline play, leaving the doubles specialist short on options.
sealed the first set in just 22 minutes and, as his baseline work
heated up, made short work of the second set as well.
almost perfect. Everything worked well, my movement, my strokes. I've
just got to practice tomorrow and be ready for the last eight," he said
Nishikori's stirring run in the US Open left victims
including world number one Novak Djokovic in his wake as he become the
first Asian man to make a Grand Slam singles final.
But he was
crushed in straight sets in the final by Croatia's Marin Cilic, which
Nishikori admitted took a toll, physical and mental.
"It took me a
couple of days to recover from the defeat. I was disappointed to have
come so far and lost, but I did great things in the tournament, beating
three top 10 guys to the final.
"I certainly gained a lot of confidence from the US Open."
Nishikori will next face Marinko Matosevic of Australia, who disposed of Japan's Go Soeda 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.
Nishikori's easy victory against Ram indicates that the Japanese player has managed to put aside his US Open final defeat.
former tennis star-turned-coach Michael Chang said Monday that his
physical similarities and shared Asian heritage with Nishikori have
contributed to the success of their mentor-student partnership.
Chang's 175cm stature is similar to Nishikori's 178cm, and both are known for their speed on the court.
champion and sixth seed Joao Sousa was bundled out 7-6 (7-1), 6-2 by
Germany's Benjamin Becker, while doubles top seeds Eric Butorac and
Raven Klaasen fell to Andre Begemann and Julian Knowle 6-1, 3-6, 10-6.
seeded Frenchman Julien Benneteau produced a sublime performance in the
second round match to send Filip Krajinovic of Serbia crashing 6-4,