Japan’s Kei Nishikori maintained his impressive clay-court form to outclass Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 6-3 6-3 6-3 in the second round of the French Open on Wednesday.
The fifth seed, a quarter-finalist at Roland Garros last year, had too much in his armoury for 40th-ranked Kuznetsov on a sun-bathed Court One, although Nishikori got off to a slow start.
He dropped serve in the third game of the match but broke back twice to take the opening set.
Kuznetsov’s double-fault gave him a break in the fifth game of the second set. He moved 5-2 ahead with some punishing groundstrokes, then dropped serve himself as he served for a two-set lead.
That was only a minor inconvenience. Nishikori broke Kuznetsov’s serve in the next game with sweetly struck forehand winner. Nishikori was well inside his comfort zone as he sealed the win with sublime backhand.
Nishikori, whose only defeats on clay this year came in the Barcelona final against Rafael Nadal and in Madrid and Rome where he was stopped in the semis by Novak Djokovic, will face Spain’s Fernando Verdasco in the third round. Verdasco crushed Croatia’s Ivan Dodig.