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Kei Nishikori, Dominic Thiem crash out of Halle Open

Kei Nishikori and Dominic Thiem crashed out of the Halle Open with losses to Karen Khachanov and Yuichi Sugita respectively.

tennis Updated: Jun 21, 2018 01:07 IST
Agencies, Halle
Kei Nishikori,Dominic Thiem,Halle Open
Kei Nishikori suffered a second straight loss to Karen Khachanov in the Halle Open as he crashed out in straight sets.(AFP)

Karen Khachanov handed Japan’s Kei Nishikori a second straight loss on German grass, beating the seventh seed 6-2, 6-2 on Wednesday at the ATP Halle event.

In 2017, the 36th-ranked Russian also beat Asia’s top player in the second round here, when Nishikori was forced to quit with a hip injury. Nishikori has a mixed record at the Wimbledon tune-up event, dominated over the past decade and a half by Roger Federer with nine titles. The number 27 Japanese is coming back from wrist injury problems and working to rebuild his ranking, which once placed him firmly in the Top 10.

He began 2018 by playing a lower-level Challenger tournament before returning to the ATP in February.

The 28-year-old reached the semi-finals here in 2014 and 2015 but also exited injured in 2016 and a year ago, when he quit against Khachanov trailing 3-2 in the first set.

“I made too many unforced errors, I had a lot of mistakes,” Nishikori said. “He was playing good, but nothing special, I couldn’t make a first serve and I should have stayed back more at the baseline. Khachanov hits a flat ball and that makes it not so easy on grass. I need to train more before Wimbledon.”

Khachanov advanced to the Friday quarter-finals against Spanish fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, a 6-4, 7-5 winner over Dutchman Robin Haase. Khachanov managed seven aces against his Japanese opponent, who was broken four times. The Russian 22-year-old stands 1-1 with Bautista Agut, after splitting wins on clay and hardcourt.

Dominic Thiem suffers loss

Erratic serving cost Dominic Thiem dearly as the third-seeded Austrian suffered a 6-2 7-5 defeat by Japan’s Yuichi Sugita in the second round of the Halle Open on Wednesday.

French Open runner-up Thiem double-faulted four times and landed only 53 percent of his first serves in play as he struggled to find his rhythm on the German grass.

World number 52 Sugita took his chances to break his seventh-ranked opponent three times, before clinching one of the biggest wins of his career in just under an hour and a half.

The result represents a setback for Thiem’s Wimbledon preparations, with the Austrian having failed to progress beyond the last-16 in his four appearances at the All England Club.

Earlier in the day at Halle, big-hitting Russian Karen Khachanov overcame Japan’s Kei Nishikori for the second straight year at the last-16 stage.

The 22-year-old Khachanov fired seven aces and broke his opponent’s serve twice in each set to win 6-2 6-2 in 78 minutes.

“I had to play more aggressive,” Khachanov, recording his 20th match win of the season, said courtside.

“I had good memories here on centre court. I played three matches here last year so it gave me a lot of confidence and experience. This year has been great so far.”

Khachanov will next face Spanish fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who overcame Dutchman Robin Haase 6-4 7-5.

First Published: Jun 21, 2018 01:06 IST