Kei Nishikori

‘Everything started working well’ – Kei Nishikori beats Karen Khachanov at Madrid Open

Kei Nishikori said “everything started working well” after he beat Karen Khachanov to set up a clash with Alexander Zverev at the Madrid Open.

The world No. 43 defeated the 24-year-old Russian 6-7 (6-8), 6-2, 6-2 in the opening round of the ATP Masters 1000 tournament on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old Japanese saved a set point to force a first set tiebreak – which he lost after having two set points from 6-4. Nishikori recovered strongly – breaking the world No. 23 twice in both the second and third sets and not dropping his own serve to cruise to victory.

“I was feeling much better after first set. I think I was a little bit tight and a little too conservative maybe,” said Nishikori in a post-match interview.

“I think I could [have been] a little more aggressive. So I tried to step in a little bit more than the first set. Then everything started working well.”

The 2014 US Open finalist will face Zverev – last year’s runner-up at Flushing Meadows – in the second round. Nishikori trails the head-to-head 1-2 – but his victory came on clay at the 2018 Monte Carlo Masters.

Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.