Japanese tennis star Kei Nishikori admitted he didn't know how he survived a tough Barcelona opener but he was happy that he managed to escape with a win and progress into the next round. Nishikori, a two-time Barcelona champion, kicked off his campaign at an ATP 500 event in Barcelona with a tight win as he edged out Argentine clay court specialist Guido Pella 4-6 7-6 (4) 6-2.
Pella claimed the first break of the match in the fifth game and then held on to his serve to win the opener. Pella was serving for the match at 6-5 in the second set and also had a 3-0 lead in the tie-break but even that wasn't enough for him to win the match.
After dropping the second set, Pella's game fell apart and Nishikori earned a win in three sets. "He had the match today at 6-5, serving [for the match],” said Nishikori. “He was much better in the first and second [sets] and 3/0 up in the tie-break.
I don’t know how I fought through. [In the] third set, I was playing much better. “I was making so many unforced errors in the first and second [sets]. Maybe he got a little bit tired and I was playing strong in the third set.
I want to take that to the next round… The way I fought today and the way I played in the third set was good”.
Nishikori plays next Cristian Garin
Nishikori is set for another tough challenge as he plays next against top-ranked Chilean tennis player Garin.
Garin, seeded at No. 13, had a first round bye in Barcelona. “[Garin] is good on clay, but he can play on all surfaces,” said Nishikori. “I thought I was playing good [in Hamburg last year] but I lost pretty easily to him, so I definitely have to change something”. It remains to be seen if Nishikori can make a deep run at the Barcelona Open this week.