Kei Nishikori kicked off his title defence at the Barcelona Open in style, as he cruised into the third round after trouncing Teymuraz Gabashvili, 6-3, 6-4. Nishikori, who has bagged the top seed at the event, is, along with Rafael Nadal, the favourite to win the tournament.
Ranked five in the world and on a hunt for his ninth ATP tour title, Nishikori was relentless as he looked to get his campaign at Barcelona off to a perfect start. Despite intermittent displays of brilliance, Gabashvili was completely outplayed by the defending champion.
"I played a good two sets today. It wasn't easy for my first match on clay this year, but I served great. It’s always special to come back and defend the title here, where there is such great facilities”, said Nishikori.
Robredo, Almagro advance while Verdasco exits
2004 Barcelona Open champion and a seasoned clay court specialist Tommy Robredo, seeded nine at the event, ousted Mikhail Kukushkin in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2 to register his 250th victory on clay. Nicolas Almagro, who caused a massive upset the last time he was here by snapping Nadal’s 41-match winning streak at the event, received a walkover three games into the match against Paolo Lorenzi.
But, it was 17-year-old Andrey Rublev of Russia who set things aflutter on the second day of the Barcelona Open as he sent Fernando Verdasco of Spain packing. The Spaniard, whose fragile disposition has often been the cause for his downfall, lost 6-7 (4), 3-6. For the 329th ranked Rublev, the win against Verdasco is nothing short of a dream come true. "I'm really happy to win against one of the best players on the Tour. It's amazing. I don't even know what to say; I'm just so happy. I tried not to think and just keep showing my best every point. I had nothing to lose”, Rublev said, hardly able to contain his delight.
No. 7 seed Roberto Bautista Agut took out Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci 6-3, 6-4 to book his place in the pre-quarterfinals. Victor Estrella Burgos, who became the oldest player to win his first ATP title last year, ousted Dominic Thiem 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the first round.Published 22 Apr 2015, 11:03 IST