Even if Kei Nishikori hasn’t played on grass since the 2018 Wimbledon edition, the Japanese managed to fly past the Brazilian qualifier Thiago Monteiro in straight sets. Nishikori felt confident throughout his 6/4, 7/6, 6/4 victory against Thiago in spite of his long time away of grass: "It's been a while since my last tournament on grass, but I made a good start and played confidently"
The Japanese star’s last match on the green surface took place one year ago at the 2018 Wimbledon edition when he was denied in the quarter-finals by the current champion Novak Djokovic. Kei broke early in the first set and protected his advantage to make it 1-0.
He broke again at 2-2 in the second set and got himself serving for the set without too much struggle. Then, Monteiro managed to recover and made it 5-5 before advancing in the tie-break. The Brazilian went up to 3-1, but Nishikori’s fighter spirit helped him win all the remaining points of the tie-break and therefore to secure the second set with 7-3.
In the third set, the two went toe-to-toe until Monteiro gave up under the pressure of serving for remaining in the match at 5-4 for Nishikori. Despite the fact he hit no less than 36 winners and lost his serve just once in the entire match, the Japanese was able to spot some glitches in his game: “I want to play with this kind of rhythm as much as possible.
There are a few things I'll try to fix for my next match." Kei’s next opponent will be Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie, who gave no chance to Denis Istomin in his 6/2, 6/4, 6/4 win. If he will get past the Brit, Nishikori will get his 399th career victory.