Nishikori survives scare in Indian Wells opener

Indian Wells (United States) (AFP) –


Sixth-seeded Kei Nishikori went the distance Sunday to book a third-round berth at the ATP Indian Wells Masters with a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7/4) victory over France's Adrian Mannarino.

Mannarino, ranked 52nd in the world, served for the match at 6-5 in the third but never mustered a match point.

He double-faulted on the third break point of the game and that was enough of a window for Nishikori, who is back in the California desert after missing last year's tournament because of illness.

That was part of a slow start to 2018 as Nishikori returned from a wrist injury, but he's up to seventh in the world after opening 2019 with a title in Brisbane in January.

He reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open but retired against eventual champion Novak Djokovic with a quadriceps strain.

Nishikori has since reached the Rotterdam semi-finals, but was bundled out of the second round in Dubai last month.

He was pleased to prevail after being pushed by Mannarino.

"He made me play one or two extra balls many, many times," Nishikori said. "There were moments I could have played better but he was playing good tennis.

"I think in the tiebreak I played best tennis of the match, I was really focused."

Nishikori could get another Frenchman in the third round, when he will face either 30th-seeded Lucas Pouille or 67th-ranked Hubert Hurkacz of Poland.