Nishikori silences Portuguese fans with Sousa rout
Send a link to a friend
[January 19, 2019]
By Jonathan Barrett
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Japan's Kei
Nishikori moved swiftly into the fourth round of the Australian Open
on Saturday after beating Joao Sousa of Portugal 7-6(6) 6-1 6-2.
The comfortable victory came as a relief to the eighth seed and
former U.S. Open finalist after he battled through consecutive
five-set matches in the opening rounds.
"I think today will help," the three-times quarter-finalist said
after setting up a clash with Spain's 23rd seed Pablo Carreno Busta.
Both Nishikori and Sousa entered their match after tight opening
rounds and were evenly matched in the early exchanges on their
favoured hard court surfaces.
But after a close tiebreaker, Nishikori took near total control,
increasing the pace on his ground strokes and showing soft hands at
the net; a quality his opponent couldn't replicate.
He said he would continue attacking the net after using the tactic
successfully on Saturday.
"I think third set, I started coming (in) a little more, I think
that was working well," said Nishikori.
[to top of second column]
Japan's Kei Nishikori in action during the match against Portugal's
Joao Sousa. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A small pocket of red and green-clad fans added a football-like
atmosphere to the clash as they cheered Portugal's top-ranked
But Nishikori robbed them of their voice, as he unleashed forehand
winners almost at will, a stroke he said was his favorite shot
despite being better known for his double-handed backhand.
Fittingly, the Michael Chang-coached Nishikori ended the contest
with a clean, cross-court forehand winner to keep his hopes of a
maiden Grand Slam alive.
(Reporting by Jonathan Barrett; Editing by Peter Rutherford)
[© 2019 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2019 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.