[CR5] Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs. [CR85] Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS)
Nishikori got off to a fine start today, not showing any signs of rust on the clay. Gabashvili was just a tad too inconsistent on his groundstrokes when it mattered. When his timing is on, he can challenge the top players; however, he is missing that one attribute that will take him to the next level. After fourteen years on tour without an ATP World Tour singles title, it shows how incredibly difficult it has been for him to get to that next level. Despite his determination, success continues to elude him on the singles tour. What can he change to improve his chances of winning that first title?
Nishikori may have had a brief moment of worry when he was down break points, but he quickly erased those and squashed any hopes Gabashvili had of causing the upset. Once again, a lower ranked player failed to capitalize on the rare opportunities offered by a top ranked player, adding to their frustration and further impairing their concentration and ability to perform. However, credit to Gabashvili who tried to challenge Nishikori in the second, but going down an early break was not something he could afford against a player like Nishikori who moves so well and hits the ball with such ferocity. Nishikori, happy to get his title defense underway, gladly took the 6-3, 6-4 victory over an opponent that could have been a potential threat.