A five-set Wimbledon first-round match lasting almost three and a half hours was not what Kei Nishikori needed on Monday as he nursed a sore calf strain. But what the Japanese hero wanted mattered little to Simone Bolelli as the Italian kept giving Nishikori and his stricken calf the run around until the fifth seed prevailed 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. “It’s a little bit sore from last week but it’s getting better and it wasn’t easy to play for three hours but it should be okay for the next match,” Nishikori said. I knew it was going to be a tough one because we played long five sets last year here Kei Nishikori Concerns that the injury which forced Nishikori to retire from the Halle semi-finals nine days ago would scupper his Wimbledon campaign surfaced midway through the fifth set when he had to get his stricken left calf re-strapped while leading 3-0. The rather modest skin-toned tape that had done the job to that point was discarded as the trainer replaced it with so much white strapping it appeared as if Nishikori’s leg had been mummified. Despite being in discomfort, Nishikori kept going for three hours and 22 minutes to win his second successive five-set marathon against Bolelli at Wimbledon after the pair went the distance in the third round last year. “I knew it was going to be a tough one because we played long five sets last year here. I knew he’s good on grass,” Nishikori, who was the only Japanese man to win on Monday following the exits of Hiroki Moriya and Go Soeda, said. “Mentally, I was ready but there was many ups and downs. My serve, and maybe my concentration wasn’t there some moments.” Those lapses emerged in the second set tie-break, when he fell 6-2 behind before surrendering it by sending his racquet flying as he attempted to chase down a Bolelli winner, and in the fourth game of the fourth set. He saw those blips as the reason why he could not finish off the contest sooner but was delighted with the unreturnable serve that finished off Bolelli. “Finish very strong in the end,” added Nishikori, who last year became the first Asian man to contest a grand slam singles final when he finished runner-up at the US Open. “Sure I need more matches to get more experience. And also to win the matches, it’s important for my confidence. I’m sure that I’m playing good on grass now.” The 25-year-old admitted he was not 100 per cent sure how the injury would affect him going forward but he had 48 hours to regain his fitness before facing Colombian Santiago Giraldo.