Nishikori gets first Wimbledon win on return
Date published :
26 Jun 2012 - 14:17:17
Japan's Kei Nishikori earned his first ever win at Wimbledon as the 19th seed marked his return from injury with a 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan in the first round on Tuesday.
Nishikori had never been past the opening round in his three previous visits, losing to former champions Rafael Nadal and Lleyton Hewitt on his last two appearances, but he ended that barren run in his first match since April.
The 22-year-old will play Andrey Kuznetsov or Florent Serra for a place in the last 32.
Nishikori made history earlier this year when he became the first Japanese man to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals in 80 years after a surprise five-set win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
But his progress suffered a setback when he was hit by a stomach injury against Fernando Verdasco in Barcelona that forced him to miss the rest of the claycourt campaign, including the French Open.
Nishikori, seeded 19th, was finally back in action at the All England Club and he made a slow start as Kukushkin broke in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead.
Kukushkin has climbed to a career-high 49 in the world rankings after a solid season, but he had gone out in the first round on his Wimbledon debut last year and Nishikori gradually took control of the match.
He broke back and converted his first set point with a crushing volley that drew cheers from the large contingent of Japanese fans on Court 14.
Nishikori called for a medical time out for treatment on his right ankle at 2-1 in the second set and needed a pain-killing spray and heavy strapping before he could continue.
He seemed untroubled by the injury for the rest of the match and broke for a 5-3 lead, prompting Kukushkin to berate the umpire, telling him to pay more attention after a close call went against the Kazakh.
Moments after Nishikori closed out the set, it was Kukushkin's turn to have treatment on a lower back injury.
Nishikori sensed his chance to go for the kill and broke again in the first game of the third set before sealing the win in two hours and 20 minutes on his third match point.