Published: Tue, May 08, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Djokovic sees off Nishikori in Madrid Open

Djokovic sees off Nishikori in Madrid Open

The Canadian defeated Nicolas Kicker 6-3, 6-2 in round 1 of the ATP Madrid Open, to set up a 2nd round matchup with third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov.

Novak Djokovic has had a tough time of it of late but the once world number one reminded everyone he still has what it takes to mix it with the best as he beat Kei Nishikori 7-5, 6-4 in the first round of the Madrid Open.

Coming back from a right elbow injury, Djokovic hasn't made it to the quarterfinals in his previous five tournaments this year, admitting he returned to tennis too quickly.

Nishikori missed a number of chances in the first set and a backhand miss allowed Djokovic to break in the 12th game and then take the set with a forehand victor.

Having avoided Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro and Dominic Thiem in his half of the draw, there was a sense that this could be a big week for the two-time champion.

"It was unusual, I must admit, playing Kei in the first round", Djokovic said. "But it was a good opening match".

Nishikori, now ranked 20th, has only bested the No. 12 Djokovic twice in their 14 career meetings, including an upset win in the U.S. Open semifinals in 2014. She has been dealing with a left forearm injury.

However, Djokovic was hardly entering the match at the peak of his powers.

For old time's sake, Djokovic missed the easiest of smashes midway through the second set, though it ultimately caused no him major problems as he broke at the death to secure a huge win.

In a first-round match between Frenchmen, Benoit Paire hit 39 winners to defeat 18th-ranked Lucas Pouille 6-2, 6-3, advancing to face 19-year-old Denis Shapovalov of Canada, who got past Tennys Sandgren of the US 6-1, 6-4.

Benoit Paire hit 39 winners to upset fellow Frenchman and 15th seed Lucas Pouille 6-2 6-3 to set up a tie with Canada's Denis Shapovalov.

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