WOW! Kei Nishikori Stuns Felix Auger Aliassime to Bag His First Hard-Court Victory in 18 Months at ATP Rotterdam

Published 03/01/2021, 10:21 AM EST
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 17: Kei Nishikori of Japan celebrates winning match point in his second round match against Ivo Karlovic of Croatia during day four of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 17, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)


Kei Nishikori broke his hard-court hoodoo as he beat Canadian sensation Felix Auger Aliassime in a dominant straight-sets victory at ATP Rotterdam Open. This was Nishikori’s first hardcourt victory in 18 months, having last won one at US Open 2019.

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Felix was last year’s runner-up at the tournament and after a fourth-round run at Australian Open 2021 a lot more was expected of him, whereas Nishikori was on a bad run. This was Nishikori’s first victory since French Open 2020. Moreover, he recorded his first victory over a top 20 player since Brisbane Open 2019.

Kei Nishikori during the ATP Cup. REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

Strong first set from Kei Nishikori and Felix Auger Aliassime

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The match started off on a strong note for both players. Neither player was giving the other a sniff at a breakpoint. Nishikori was back to serving beautifully. He kept a disciplined line and had a high first-serve percentage. Felix was not behind him either.

At 3-3, the tide started shifting towards Nishikori. The Japanese ace was piling the pressure on the young Canadian. Felix’s service holds were long and tiresome, yet he somehow got away.

At 5-4, it looked like Nishikori would get a breakpoint and win the set, but Felix denied him and took the first set to a tiebreaker. Here also both players were inseparable.

At 4-4 in the tiebreaker, Felix cracked and gave an important point to Nishikori. From there on, the Japanese took the first set 7-6. The set lasted 1 hour 7 minutes and had some clutch Nishikori backhands.

Nishikori back to his best

The second set was dominant as any set could be. Nishikori was ruthless and was racing away. He just lost two points of his service in the second set and had an amazing first-serve percentage of 89%. His shots were finding the lines and it showed glimpses of the early Nishikori that everyone feared.

For Felix, it looked like he was dealing with some niggle. He played awful service games and won just one game in the entire set. Nishikori was having to return simple serves, and Felix wasn’t engaging in the short rallies as well.

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In the end, Nishikori won seven points in a row to quickly finish the set. The second set lasted only 31 minutes as Nishikori took the set and match, 7-6, 6-1.

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Bhavishya Mittal

961 articles

Bhavishya Mittal is a tennis author for EssentiallySports, who is currently pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Manipal University. A former sports editor for The Manipal Journal, Bhavishya has also worked for The New Indian Express. He has a keen eye for many sports but he is a particularly ardent follower of tennis, with a zest to create riveting articles on the ever-evolving sport.

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