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Nishikori wins in Grand Slam return at French Open

Nishikori wins in Grand Slam return at French Open


Japanese former world number 4 Kei Nishikori marked his return to Grand Slam tennis with a victory on Sunday, seeing off Canadian qualifier Gabriel Diallo in five sets in the first round of the French Open.

The 34-year-old Nishikori, now ranked 350th in the world, defeated his 166th-ranked opponent in a marathon match of 4 hours and 22 minutes at Rolland Garros 7-5, 7-6(3), 3-6, 1-6 , 7-5, taking a crucial break to seal it.

Japan's Kei Nishikori plays against Canada's Gabriel Diallo in a first-round match of the French Open men's singles tennis tournament in Paris on May 26, 2024. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

“My desire allowed me to continue fighting at the end,” said Nishikori, whose last Grand Slam appearance was at the 2021 US Open.

“I'm happy with the win, but especially with the fact that I'm getting my performance back somewhat. I didn't feel like I was going to make any mistakes, even though I wasn't playing at my best.”

Nishikori underwent hip surgery in January 2022 before being ruled out again on his return to the top ATP Tour last July due to a left knee injury at the Atlanta Open. His comeback in Miami in March this year lasted just one game.

“I went to five sets in my first match in a while, and as you would expect I wasn't physically in shape for that,” he said. “There was (fatigue) from the second set. I stumbled in the fourth.”

The towering 203 centimeter Diallo had 15 aces to one by Nishikori, who needed a medical timeout for the final set as he received treatment around his lower back on the court. But the veteran gained the upper hand in long rallies by varying his shots.

“I was helped by his unforced errors until the second set, but it seemed like he was a different person from the third,” Nishikori said. “I felt the power of someone from the top 50 halfway through the match (in Diallo). Going on the attack in the last set was my only option.”

Japanese 20-year-old qualifier Shintaro Mochizuki put in a great performance in his match, taking Poland's eight-seeded Hubert Hurkacz to five sets before losing 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3.

Japan's Kei Nishikori reacts after scoring a point against Canada's Gabriel Diallo in a first-round match of the French Open men's singles tennis tournament in Paris on May 26, 2024. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Related coverage:

Tennis: Naomi Osaka on her way to winning start at French Open

Tennis: Nishikori worried about comeback at the French Open




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