Nishikori back winning in Rome, Vinci bows out with a loss
Rome (AFP) –
Japan's Kei Nishikori eased into the second round of the ATP Italian Open in Rome on Monday as Italy's Roberta Vinci bowed out of her final WTA tournament with a first round defeat.
Former US Open finalist Vinci fell 2-6, 6-0, 6-3 to Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic on the red clay of the Foro Italico.
The 35-year-old reached the US Open final in 2010 and won ten singles title in her career spanning nearly two decades.
Nishikori -- who had lost his two matches on clay in Spain in the previous two weeks -- needed 1hr 48min to hand Spaniard Feliciano Lopez his sixth defeat in seven trips to the Italian capital 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.
"It wasn't easy match. It was windy so conditions were tough for both of us," said 24th-ranked Nishikori, who hit 18 winners to counter the seven aces fired down by Lopez.
Nishikori arrived in Rome after losing his two matches on clay in Spain -- retiring in Barcelona due to a recurring wrist injury problem before losing his opening-round in Madrid to Novak Djokovic.
"He used a lot of slice and great serves, but I think I handled his slice well," continued Nishikori who won his last title in Memphis in February 2016.
"The first set could have gone both ways, luckily I got it and after that, I was more confident and I was playing better tennis."
Nishikori took a one-set lead after a first set-tiebreak that featured nine mini-breaks.
The pair exchanged serves in the second set before 2016 semi-finalist Nishikori broke again and served out to love to book his place in the second-round where he meets third seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.
Robin Haase of the Netherlands needed three sets to get past Russian Daniil Medvedev 3-6, 6-4, 6-,1 with ninth seed Davis Goffin of Belgium seeing off Argentina's Leonardo Mayer 6-1, 6-2.
In the women's event, Japan's Naomi Osaka powered her way past former world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-0, 6-3 to set up a meeting with top seed Simona Halep of Romania.
American Madison Keys, seeded 13th, beat Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-1, with Britain's Johanna Konta easing past Slovak 17th-seed Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4, 6-3.
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