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Nishikori outlasts Khachanov in French Open thriller

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Japan’s Kei Nishikori wipes his face with a towel as he plays against Russia’s Karen Khachanov during their men’s singles second round tennis match on Day 4 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 2, 2021. (Photo by MARTIN BUREAU / AFP)

defeated Russia’s Karen Khachanov 2/6, 4/, 6/4, 6/4, 6/4 in a French Open marathon that lasted almost four hours on Philip Chatrier Court. It was the 26th time that the rugged Japanese won a five-set match in his long career.

Khachanov won a protracted first set and Nishikori levelled one set apiece in a shorter time. The Russian, seeded 23, won the third set and the battle royal commenced in the fourth set, in extremely windy conditions on Philip Chatrier Court.

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Khachanov broke Nishikori’s serve to take the third game of the fourth set but the Russian could not consolidate. In the fifth game, a net-cord shot sailed over the sideline to bring Nishikori back to deuce. He saved two break points before holding serve 3-2. Khachanov lost three game points and saved a break threat before holding the sixth game.

Russia’s Karen Khachanov reacts as he plays against Japan’s Kei Nishikori during their men’s singles second round tennis match on Day 4 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 2, 2021. (Photo by MARTIN BUREAU / AFP)


The seventh game would remain haunting Khachanov whenever he remembers the match. Although Nishikori led 40-15, he was forced to deuce. The Japanese saved three break points before clinching on his third advantage opportunity. The crucial game lasted 10 minutes. Khachanov recovered from 30-40 to take the six-minute eighth game with a service winner. Nishikori held serve to lead 5-4 and broke his opponent’s serve to level the match two sets apiece.

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In the decider, Nishikori held serve to lead 1-0 and Khachanov leveled. In the fourth game, Khachanov cancelled a breakpoint at 30-40 and took the serve. Nishikori lost the first and third points to 15-30 but leveled. He committed a double fault to reach deuce and took the game on the first. Khachanov screamed in disappointment. As he complained to his team during the changeover, he banged his clenched fist against the strings of his racket and got a blister on his middle finger. He received treatment on the court for the bleeding. Although he won the sixth game on his serve, it was clear that his tactic was to win points quickly. This resulted in unforced errors. Nishikori took the ninth game on his serve. Serving to stay in the match, Khachanov committed his third double fault to 0-30 towards losing the game at love for the set and match that lasted 3 hours and 59 minutes.

In another marathon, Federico Delbonis from Argentina defeated Pablo Andujar 4/6, 6/1, 3/6, 6/3, 6/2. The Argentinean hammered 14 aces against the Spaniard who had sent out the fourth-seeded Domini Thiem in another five-set encounter in the preceding round.

The sixth seed, Alexander Zverev of Germany defeated Russia’s Roman Safiullin 76(4), 6/3, 7/6(1). Although Zverev tallied 15 aces in the encounter, he committed 10 double faults. This weakness accounted for the close match against the qualifier Safiullin who is ranked 182 in the world. Zverev will have to cut down on double faults if he hopes to proceed far at Roland Garros.

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