Rio de Janeiro - Kei Nishikori smashed his racket into the
red clay after losing the first set on Tuesday, an unusual burst of anger from
the usually calm Japanese player.
Destroying the racket didn't help.
He lost the second set, too, as Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci
upset the top seed in the first round of the Rio Open 6-4, 6-3.
"It could be the worst match in the last few
years," Nishikori said.
Asked if it was the angriest he's ever been on a court, he
replied: "Yes, it could have been."
Besides pulverizing the racket, Nishikori also complained
about the "heavy balls," and the "high bounces" on the
surface in Rio as his trip around the Latin American clay circuit ended
The No. 5-ranked Nishikori reached the final last week in
Buenos Aires, losing to Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine. It was his sixth
straight loss in a final since winning the Memphis Open a year ago.
"I think the ball was the most difficult to adjust
to," he said. "I couldn't do anything today."
It was a different story for Bellucci, the home country favourite
who pulled a huge upset during Carnival week in Brazil.
"You don't see Kei break the racket often,"
The No. 75-ranked Bellucci had lost his previous two matches
against Nishikori, including a three-set loss two years ago in the first round
of the French Open.
"For me it's amazing to have a victory like this in
Brazil," Bellucci said. "He's an unbelievable player. A top five. So
it was amazing."
Nishikori's loss makes No 2-seeded Dominic Thiem the favourite
for the title. Thiem had a 6-4, 7-5 win over Janko Tipsarevic and will face
another Serbian on Wednesday in the second round against Dusan Lajovic.
In other first-round matches, No 4-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta beat Brazil's
Joao Souza 6-3, 6-2. No 5 Albert Ramos-Vinolas defeated Stephane Robert 6-2,
No. 6-seeded David Ferrer lost to Dolgopolov 6-4, 6-4.