Nishikori comes back to advance in Rotterdam

Tennis

Kei Nishikori overcame Pierre-Hugues Herbert 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 at the Rotterdam Open Tuesday on his return from the knee injury which forced him to retire during his Australian Open quarterfinal against Novak Djokovic.

The Japanese world No. 7 lost the first set to the Frenchman but bounced back to win the first round match and will next face Latvian Ernests Gulbis. who beat Marius Copil 6-2, 6-4.

“It wasn’t easy, as he [Herbert] was playing good tennis and serving well,” said Nishikori.

“I had a little bit of trouble with my return game and couldn’t convert the important points. I just tried to play steady, as I wasn’t playing bad, and I tried to stay aggressive.”

Earlier, fourth seed Milos Raonic beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6(8), 7-5 to set up a repeat of his epic Australian Open match against Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka.

“It’s going to be tough, particularly as our last match was four tiebreaks, across four hours, in Melbourne,” said the Canadian.

Elsewhere No. 2 seed Karen Khachanov fell to a surprise defeat against home favourite Tallon Griekspoor. The Dutchman — ranked No. 211 in the world — defeated the highly-rated Russian 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Frenchman Gael Monfils is also through to the second round after an impressive 7-6 (5), 7-5 win over Belgian No. 8 seed David Goffin.

Canada’s Denis Shapovalov made it through with a comfortable 7-5, 6-3 win over Croatian qualifier Franko Skugor. He will face Tomas Berdych in the second round after the Czech battled past qualifier Gilles Simon, winning 7-6 (8), 6-4.

Fernando Verdasco also made it to round two by beating Australia’s Matthew Ebden 7-5, 6-4.

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