ROME (AP) — Looking to revive his clay-court game ahead of Roland Garros, Kei Nishikori defeated Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (5), 6-4 Monday in the first round of the Italian Open.
It was Nishikori’s first victory since reaching the final of the Monte Carlo Masters last month. In his previous two matches, Nishikori retired against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in Barcelona and lost to Novak Djokovic in Madrid.
Nishikori hit only 18 winners to Lopez’s 26 but had fewer unforced errors — 19 to 31.
“It wasn’t (an) easy match,” Nishikori said. “It was windy. And he used a lot of slice and great serves. … Luckily I got (the) first set. After that I was more confident and I was playing better tennis.”
Lopez argued with the chair umpire after losing a point in which he thought the ball bounced twice before Nishikori hit a half volley.
The 24th-ranked Nishikori will next face third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov.
Also on the red clay of the Foro Italico, ninth-seeded David Goffin swept aside Leonardo Mayer 6-1, 6-2 and 10th-seeded Pablo Carrena Busta beat Jared Donaldson 6-4, 3-6, 6-0.
In the women’s tournament, former U.S. Open finalist Roberta Vinci bid her fans an emotional farewell following the final match of her career.
Having already announced that this would be her final tournament, the 35-year-old Vinci was beaten by Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic 2-6, 6-0, 6-3.
“I’m crying now but I’m happy, I’m happy for what I’ve accomplished,” Vinci said in a post-match ceremony. “I would have liked to do better but it doesn’t matter that I lost.”
Naomi Osaka, who claimed her first WTA title at Indian Wells in March, eliminated former No. 1 Victoria Azaranka 6-0, 6-3.
Also, 13th-seeded Madison Keys beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-1; Johanna Konta defeated 17th-seeded Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4, 6-3; and Petra Martic beat Lesia Tsurenko 6-1, 6-2 and will next face defending champion Elina Svitolina.
The French Open starts on May 27.
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