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Nishikori stays in hunt after beating Berdych

Japan's Kei Nishikori was in good form at the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London

By Martyn Herman

Kei Nishikori shook off an opening day drubbing by Novak Djokovic to beat Tomas Berdych 7-5 3-6 6-3 in the best match yet at the ATP World Tour Finals on Tuesday.

The Japanese world number eight looked in trouble when he faced a break point at 3-3 in the deciding set but he finished fast to register his first win in the Stan Smith Group.

“I got a bit lucky in the last couple of games but I worked really hard today,” the 25-year-old, who reached the semi-finals on his debut at the tournament last season, said on court.

A match full of powerful baseline rallies ebbed and flowed.
World number six Berdych, who was beaten by Roger Federer in his opening match, squandered a great chance in the first set when Nishikori was serving at 4-5 15-30, missing a wide-open court with a backhand at the end of brilliant rally.

It proved costly as Berdych dropped serve in the next game and Nishikori clinched the set on serve with a pinpoint forehand winner past the wrong-footed Czech.

Nishikori went 2-0 ahead in the second set but Berdych reeled off five games in a row with some thunderous winners to turn the match around and send it towards a deciding set – the first so far in the singles this year at the O2 Arena.

An engrossing third set reached a crucial juncture at 3-3 when a lucky net cord gave Berdych a break point, but Nishikori showed great defensive skills to fend off a big attack from his Czech opponent and kept his nose ahead at 4-3.
Two forehand errors from the Berdych racket allowed Nishikori to move 5-3 ahead and the Japanese player secured victory with a love hold.

Defending champion Djokovic will qualify for the semi-finals with a match to spare if he beat Roger Federer later on Tuesday night while Federer will progress if he wins in straight sets.

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