Kei Nishikori overcame the serve-and-volleying Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky, who famously upset Roger Federer in 2013, 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-1, 7-6(6) on Wednesday at The Championships. Nishikori is looking to advance past the fourth round this fortnight and post his best Wimbledon result yet during his ninth appearance.
Last year at Wimbledon, the Japanese right-hander had to retire from his fourth-round contest against Marin Cilic. Last month, Nishikori also had to pull out of the Gerry Weber Open in Halle with a left hip injury.
But the ninth seed looked in good health against Stakhovsky, who qualified and was playing in the Wimbledon second round for the fifth time. Nishikori had two set points in the second set to take a commanding two-sets-to-zero lead but the 33-year-old Stakhovsky stayed in the set and evened the match with an ace out wide in the tie-break.
Nishikori, though, quickly bounced back, winning the third set in 35 minutes, and in a back-and-forth tie-break in the fourth set, Nishikori hit a service winner to prevail on his third match point and move into the third round.
The 27-year-old Nishikori will next face 18th seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat German Peter Gojowczyk 6-2, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in two hours and 17 minutes. The Spaniard’s best Wimbledon result came in 2015 when he reached the fourth round. But Bautista Agut has never beaten Nishikori, who leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 4-0.
Three-time quarter-finalist Marin Cilic kept up his stellar play on grass, hitting 31 aces and winning 91 per cent of his first-serve points (50/55) to beat German Florian Mayer 7-6(2), 6-4, 7-5. Cilic finished runner-up at the Aegon Championships last month and is looking to make the Wimbledon semi-finals for the first time.
“I think it was a really, really good match. High level from both of us. Florian obviously had some chances, serving for the first and third set,” Cilic said. “But I would say that I was returning quite good throughout the match. Even though he was up in the first set, I felt that I was playing well, returning well, just applying pressure.”
Watch Highlights: Mayer v Cilic
The seventh seed will next meet 26th seed Steve Johnson, who hit 41 winners to beat Moldova’s Radu Albot 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 and move into the third round. Cilic leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-0, including a grass-court win last year at The Queen’s Club in London.