Top-seeded Kei Nishikori came from a set down to beat American lucky loser Donald Young 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 on Monday in the first round of the Japan Open.
Nishikori had been drawn to face Nicolas Almagro, but the Spanish player withdrew because of illness. Young, who had lost in qualifying to Ryan Harrison, was given Almagro’s spot in the draw just a few hours before walking on court at Ariake Colosseum.
Young took the first set against the fifth-ranked Nishikori but couldn’t capitalize. The fifth-ranked Nishikori twice broke on double faults by Young in the closing stages and extended his career record over the American to 4-0.
“I was missing too much in the beginning, I should have hit with more top spin,” Nishikori said. “He was playing aggressive, coming in a lot, and I was hitting too short. In the second set, he started to slow down a bit and I started playing more deep, more aggressive, and started using my forehand more.”
Next up for Nishikori is Portugal’s Joao Sousa, who rallied to beat Slovakia’s Martin Klizan 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Fourth-seeded Marin Cilic advanced with a 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 win over last year’s runner-up, Benoit Paire of France.
The Frenchman broke only once, in the seventh game of the second set. Cilic regained control with a decisive break in the sixth game of the third.
“In the middle of the second set he started to serve a lot better,” Cilic said. “At the end of the second set, I broke from my plan. I missed some balls and wasn’t making him play enough in the critical situations, so in the third set I went back to basics.”
Cilic will face Fernando Verdasco in the second round. The Spaniard beat Japanese qualifier Go Soeda 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-3.