Melbourne - Japanese hope Kei Nishikori
emerged from a nearly three-hour battle with Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez to
reach the fourth round at the Australian Open on Friday.
The seventh seed needed four sets to subdue
the experienced Spaniard 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours, 48 minutes after rain
forced the roof to be closed on Margaret Court Arena.
Nishikori needed a medical timeout for
treatment on his right wrist after winning the opening set, but he said it
improved during the match.
The 2014 US Open finalist will face now the
winner of the all-French clash between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Pierre-Hugues
Herbert in the fourth round.
"It was a really tough match. I lost
the second set easily, so it was tough mentally but I stayed calm and tried to
concentrate again and I started to play much better in the last set,"
"He was serving really well and that's
why I couldn't return well and I didn't serve quite well at that stage, but I
started to play better."
With the win, Nishikori successfully came
through his first real test of this year's tournament, with his serve broken
three times by the Spaniard.
The Japanese star had not dropped a set to
Garcia-Lopez in two previous meetings, but that changed in the second set.
Nishikori incurred more errors than winners
(38 to 33) but he powered to victory in the fourth set.
After winning the opening set he sought a
medical timeout for treatment on his right wrist, but it didn't appear to
affect his serving.
"It is actually okay, it was sore in
the first set but after treatment it got better," he said.
The Spaniard, who reached the fourth round
in Melbourne last year where he lost to Stan Wawrinka, received a code
violation from the chair umpire for coaching from his player's box during the
Nishikori's best results at the Australian
Open are two quarter-final appearances in 2012 and last year, making him the
only Japanese man to reach the tournament's last eight in the Open era.