Nishikori brought back to earth as ankle gives way
Japanese ace struggles with his right ankle and is dumped by Querrey as Murray advances to third round after opponent hands walkover
History-making Kei Nishikori was dumped out of the Shanghai Masters yesterday by American Sam Querrey as defending champion Andy Murray was handed a walkover into the third round.
The tall American recovered from losing the first set to seal a 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Nishikori, who made history last Sunday by becoming the first Japanese player to win the Japan Open.
Also in second-round action, second seed Novak Djokovic cruised through his tournament opener and there were wins for fourth seed Tomas Berdych and 13th seed Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland.
Nishikori said he had needed treatment during the match on his right ankle, which had been bothering him since last week.
“I tried to play but he had a good serve,” he said. “I broke him first in the third set but couldn’t finish the match. It’s disappointing but I was close to a win with this injury. Nothing I can do,” he said.
The 22-year-old Japanese romped into a 4-0 lead and sealed the opener despite a medical timeout late in the set.
But a missed overhead early in the second set contributed to an early break for Querrey and the Japanese 14th seed lost his rhythm, showing his frustration as his rejuvenated opponent, ranked 22nd, levelled the match.
In the third set two breaks of serve proved costly for Nishikori, who is at a career high of number 15 in the rankings after his weekend win over Canada’s Milos Raonic, his first on the ATP Tour since 2008.
Djokovic, who has a shot at regaining the world number one ranking if he wins the title and Roger Federer loses before the quarter-finals, dismissed Bulgaria’s Grigour Dimitrov 6-3, 6-2.
But US Open champion Andy Murray did not even have to take to the court as Germany’s Florian Mayer withdrew with a rib injury.
“I’ll practise again. I mean, you never know whether it’s a good or a bad thing. I mean, you’re obviously prepared to play the match,” said Murray.
“Yeah, sometimes it happens when you get a walkover. You just need to make sure you do enough practice and stay sharp.”
Meanwhile, Murray praised Australian Open organisers for boosting prize money, saying he never viewed a strike at the year’s first grand slam as a realistic option.
The organisers of the season-opening major announced last week that the total purse would rise by A$4 million (HK$31 million) to a record A$30 million.
It followed reports that players were mulling a boycott of the next year Australian Open to try to gain a higher percentage of grand slam revenues for themselves.
The Scot said he hoped the threats had gone away for the time being.
“I think the Australian Open has stepped up really well. They’ve obviously listened to the players and the ATP and have made a real effort to improve things,” said the 25-year-old.
“You know, from my side, I never viewed striking at the Australian Open as a real option.
“From all the players I’ve spoken to so far, everyone’s been very happy with the increases in the prize money and their plan over the next few years, as well. Hopefully that’s something we won’t need to worry about for a while.”
Murray’s comments follow more cautious remarks by Roger Federer, with the world number one saying Sunday he was not sure the cash boost was significant enough to quell player unrest in the long-running row over prize money.
Speaking after a players’ meeting on the eve of the Shanghai Masters, Federer welcomed communication between players and the grand slams but said “nothing is clear from this end”.
“The question is, are we that extremely happy with the Australian Open? It was nice to see they have made a move. Is it significant enough? I’m not sure,” he added. Djokovic welcomed the bigger purse but warned that the fight for a greater share of revenue was not over.