Cape Town - Top-seeded
Kei Nishikori of Japan had to retire injured and second seed Tomas
Berdych was beaten in second round matches at the Japan Open taking
place in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Nishikori was up against Portugal's Joao Sousa and in the first set
was leading 4-0 at one stage, but then was forced to retire due to a
back injury when leading 4-3.
The result means that the unseeded Sousa gets an easy passage through to the quarter-finals.
In another second round match, Gilles Muller of Luxembourg caused an
upset when defeating Berdych of the Czech Republic 7-6(7), 6-1 in a
match lasting one hour and 38 minutes.
Berdych, who was coming into Tokyo having won the Shenzhen Open last
week, looked good early and in the sixth game had three break points on
Muller's serve but could not convert any.
The opening set went to a tie-break and Berdych had another set point
when leading 7-6 but Muller managed to survive and claimed a mini-break
to win the breaker 9-7 and the opening set.
Midway through the second set an ailing Berdych called for the
trainer but could not do anything against the aggressive
serve-and-volley tactics of Muller, who claimed the set and match 6-1.
"I had some chances to break but he saved those break points and
began to play much better," said Berdych after his loss. "Then at the
start of the second set, my body was giving me signs that I’ve been
playing too much tennis after the last couple of week."
Croatian fourth seed Marin Cilic had to work mighty hard to get past
Spain's Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in two hours and 25 minutes.
Cilic came into the match very much the favourite against Verdasco
having not lost to the Spaniard left-hander since 2011 on a hard court.
In the first set, Verdasco's wide serve to that add court was working
well and gave him the upper hand after he had claimed his opponent's
serve early in the third game. Things went with serve after the early
break for Verdasco to win the set 6-4.
Cilic looked in trouble early in the second set when he dropped serve
in the opening game but he broke straight back to make it 1-1. There
were three more service breaks, two for Cilic and one for Verdasco, for
the Croat to even things up by claiming the set 7-5.
In the decider, there were three breaks of serve with the decisive
one coming in the 12th game to hand Cilic the match and set 7-5.
Results of matches at the Japan Open men's tournament in Tokyo on Wednesday (x denotes seeding):
João Sousa (POR) bt Kei Nishikori (JPN x1) 3-4 forfeited
Marin Cilic (CRO x4) bt Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 4-6, 7-5, 7-5
David Goffin (BEL x5) bt Jirí Veselý (CZE) 6-3, 7-5
Gilles Muller (LUX) bt Tomas Berdych (CZE x3) 7-6 (9/7), 6-1