ATP TOKYO: Monfils, Goffin and Kyrgios all advance, Karlovic save 2 MP's in a thriller against Delbonis

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ATP TOKYO: Monfils, Goffin and Kyrgios all advance, Karlovic save 2 MP's in a thriller against Delbonis

Playing for the first time after reaching the semi-final at the US Open, the 2nd seed Gael Monfils had an easy day in the office in his first Tokyo match, defeating the home player Yuichi Sugita 6-3 6-1 in 58 minutes. The match was on Gael's racquet whole time, as he lost just 9 points in 8 service games and faced no break points.

He had the edge on the return as well, taking almost 50% of the points on Sugita's serve to create 12 break points and convert 4 of them. It wasn't particularly quality match, with a lot of errors on both sides, but Gael at least followed that with a decent number of winners, while Sugita stayed on 6 winners and 35 unforced errors, not able to hope for any kind of better result with numbers like that.

Sugita stayed in touch with his rival in the opening 4 games, saving 3 break points in game 3, but Monfils closed the set with rock solid tennis, breaking in games 5 and 9 to take the set by 6-3. Gael raised his level in the second set to gain an even bigger advantage, racing into a 5-0 lead after a double break in games 2 and 4.

Game 6 was the longest in the match and Sugita saved 4 match points in it to prolong the match for at least one more game, and everything was over after yet another easy hold from Monfils in game 7, reaching the second round after a nice performance.

The 5th seed David Goffin is closing on his 40th victory of the season after he beat another home player with a wild card, Yoshihito Nishioka, by 7-5 6-2. It was a nice baseline battle between two players with solid groundstrokes and great movement, especially in the first set, and there were 23 break points in total, 16 for David and 7 for Yoshihito. In the end, Belgian made 5 breaks compared to 2 that Japanese notched, which was enough to go through in straight sets.

Goffin served better and he also won half of the return points, controlling the result after being 4-2 down in the opening set, winning 11 out of last 14 games. The match started with back-to-back breaks and Nishioka made another one in game 6 to be 4-2 up, showing how much he improved his game this season, and why he earned this wild card.

Still, Goffin pulled the break back already in game 7 to cut the deficit to 4-3, and he gained the authority after that, breaking Nishioka again in game 11 for a 6-5 lead, closing the set with own serve for a 7-5. Resistance of the home player started to fade in set number 2, he faced 8 break points in the first 3 service games, as Goffin broke him twice to jump 4-1 in front, and Belgian saved 3 break points in game 6 to get even closer to the finish line, and he crossed it after solid hold in game 8.

Another favorite for a deep run here in Tokyo, Nick Kyrgios, notched his 35th victory in 2016 with a strong performance against American qualifier Ryan Harrison. Nick moved to the second round with a 7-5 6-2 triumph, losing only 12 points in 10 service games to leave Harrison without any chance on the return. Ryan served at only 44% and that was his main problem as he couldn't keep his second serve safe enough to avoid break points.

Nick created 6 and converted 3, and the most important of those was in the 11th game of the first set when he obtained the momentum. It was a toe to toe battle in the opening 10 games, with both players holding their serves easily, allowing no deuces or break points.

Serving in the 11th game to secure the tie break, Harrison was broken at 15 and the set was soon over, after yet another easy hold for the Aussie, who took the opener 7-5. This outcome boosted Kyrgios to play even better in the second set, losing only 5 points on his serve and breaking Harrison in games 5 and 7, finishing the match with a 5-game streak.

Ivo Karlovic gave the crowd in Tokyo a taste of his standard magic, in yet another match with 3 tie breaks in which he saved match points! After 2 hours and 36 minutes, the 7th seed prevailed against Federico Delbonis by 7-6 6-7 7-6, despite the fact he played against more break points and won 3 points less than the Argentine (118-115). Federico had a huge chance to end the match in the 10th game of the final set, having 15-40 on the return, but Ivo kept his composure to fend off both and to come victorious in the end for his 26th win of the season.

Ivo fired 32 aces and saved 3 out of 4 break points to stay in touch with Delbonis who was the better player overall, defending his second serve better, winning more baseline point and facing only one break point. The first set could not have been closer, as they were firing on all cylinders in their service games, with no break points and only one deuce, on Ivo's serve.

Croat was 6-4 up in the tie break with one mini-break but Delbonis came back to level the score at 6-6, only to lose the next two points and the set. Set number 2 was just a copy of the first, with 12 easy holds and one deuce on Karlovic's serve.

In the tie break, Delbonis was 5-2 up but he lost the next 4 points to find himself 6-5 down, with match point for Karlovic, on his serve. Nevertheless, he couldn't keep his nerves, losing the next two service points which gave the chance to Delbonis to close the set, by the identical 8-6 score in the breaker.

It was interesting to see can they continue with amazing serving in the deciding set as well, where every mistake could be very costly, and we got the answer after 3 games. Karlovic broke Delbonis at 15 in game 3 to grab the lead, but he dropped it in game 6 when Delbonis made his only break to level the score at 3-3 and increase the drama.

Argentine had a perfect chance to end the match in game 10 when he had 2 match points on the return, but Ivo saved both to keep his chances alive before the deciding tie break. Delbonis was again closer to bring the match home, with a 4-2 advantage, but Ivo made his mini-break in 8th point and one more in point 12 to notch the breaker 7-5 and the match overall.

Full results are on the next page.. ALSO READ: WTA BEIJING: Kvitova, Halep and Wozniacki Reach the Third Round!