Nishikori survives Karlovic test in Melbourne


Eighth-seeded Kei Nishikori blew a two-set lead against veteran Ivo Karlovic and was within a whisker of second-round elimination in the Australian Open Thursday before winning a pulsating final-set tiebreak.

Also pushed to five sets in the opening round, Nishikori was tested again before claiming a 6-3 7-6 (8-6) 5-7 5-7 7-6 (10-7) victory after three hours, 48 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.

Nishikori looked like he had cracked in his fifth service game but he saved three break points before taking a crucial mini-break in the final tie-break.

"I think this match will help (boost) my confidence". "Almost my one year (of) aces, 60, never easy of course it's kind of frustrating if you can not get the serve like three times in a row, but I think I focused well". "I thought I served alright, this was my first time playing her and I'm just happy to win to be honest", Osaka said after setting up a clash with Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei.

Karlovic's big serve continued to give Nishikori fits in the second set, with Karlovic sending down 16 aces, but he committed twice as many unforced errors as Nishikori won in a tiebreaker.

He later joked that he'd faced more aces in one match than he himself would serve in a year.

Of course, he was asked about the aces - Karlovic had 59 aces and 98 unreturned serves; Nishikori had 9 aces.

In the first round of the men's singles, Taro Daniel sealed a second-round spot for the first time when his Australian opponent Thanasi Kokkinakis, who took the first set 7-5, injured his shoulder and retired in the second set with Daniel leading 4-2.

"He nearly had it, for sure".

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It was the young Pole's first ever match against a top 50 opponent but you would never have known it as he took a two-set lead with a succession of blistering winners off both wings. "It could have went both ways".

Raonic thumped 39 aces, serving especially impeccably in the last three tiebreaks.

"I could (have) lost these two matches". "It's frustrating if you can't get the serve".

"But I think I focused well". And this time, against a hard-hitting Kenin, Halep trailed 4-2 in the third set and managed to not cede another game. "It was really tough".

Last year, Nishikori missed the season's first Gram Slam when a right wrist injury suffered in August 2017 wiped out the start of his season. The Taiwanese player will take on either U.S. Open victor Naomi Osaka or Tamara Zidansek in the third round.

And over the next 70 minutes Tuesday, Williams went from almost gone to moving on, putting together a 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3), 6-2 victory over Buzarnescu to reach the second round in Melbourne. "I was very proud of that moment", he said. So yeah, I just need to recover well. Two from 30-30 in the 10th game and then another four to close after breaking Nishikori's serve to close out the fourth set.

She'll next play No. 27 Camila Giorgi, who beat Iga Swiatek 6-2, 6-0. The first Grand Slam of 2019 sees world number one Novak Djokovic aiming for his third consecutive slam title, and seventh Australian Open.

Among other Japanese players, Taro Daniel lost 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-3 to Canadian 25th seed Denis Shapovalov.