Nishikori pushed to 5 by a vintage Karlovic in Australia
Jan 20, 2019, 00:33
"I think we both played great tennis, and of course he served really well today".
"It was really fun on the court even though it was a really tough match I was really enjoying it I feel really good when I hear support". So I just need to recover well. "But, I mean, it's only two matches, so I'm not too exhausted yet". I was down 7-6 in a tiebreaker, but I returned well and I focused well over the last couple of points.
But in the face of Karlovic's advantage on serve, the world No. 9 was able to work his way into the match.
The 6ft-11in (2.11m) Croat, the oldest man in the second round at Melbourne Park in over 40 years, was unable to serve his way out of trouble and Nishikori nosed in front with a searing return that proved too much for the net-rushing Karlovic's lunging backhand. The 39-year-old showed remarkable fitness as he took the third from under Nishikori's nose. "He nearly had it". "One serve and it could have gone his way".
Karlovic, who will turn 40 next month, beat Poland's Hubert Hurkacz 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 to become the oldest victor of a men's singles match at the year's opening Grand Slam tournament since 44-year-old Ken Rosewall reached the third round in 1978.
But Nishikori stepped it up, winning the last three points and sparking chants of "Nishi-kori, Nishi-kori" from a section of Japanese fans at Margaret Court Arena.
"As long as my ranking is up and I get into all these tournaments, I don't see any reason I should stop", the world No 73 said. It was a really tough match.
It was the young Pole's first ever match against a top 50 opponent but you would never have known it as he took a two-set lead with a succession of blistering winners off both wings. "I think I'm healthy so hopefully there will be no injuries".
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"I was trying to play better every set, the second set playing better but he was still playing awesome tennis, forehand, backhand, serving really well today. I'll try to carry on this confidence to the next round".
Rain showers halted play on all courts soon after Nishikori's win, forcing organizers to close the roofs of the three main show courts.
Osaka, the fourth seed, needed just over an hour to beat Zidansek 6-2, 6-4 in their first match-up, but had to mount a second-set comeback to secure the win.
The South Korean struggled with blisters for most of the rest of the year and also missed the French Open and Wimbledon with a right ankle injury. He arrived at Melbourne Park past year having taken off the previous six months to rest his injured elbow and went on to lose in the fourth round, after which he underwent surgery.
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