French Open: Kei Nishikori endures a second five-setter to go through to third round

Kei Nishikori rallied past Karen Kachanov 4-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in his second consecutive five-setter to go through to the third round at Paris.

Kei Nishikori in a file photo. (Twitter/ @keinishikori)

Kei Nishikori rallied past Russian 23rd seed Karen Kachanov 4-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Court Philippe Chatrier on Wednesday to go through to the third round. It was the second consecutive five setter for the Japanese, after having gone the distance to beat Italian qualifier Alessandro Gianessi in the opening round.

“I feel like I’ve played five matches already.” The 31-year old needed eight hours to grind out the two five setters.

“I feel like I have played five matches already. Trust me, I hate playing five sets. I don’t do it on purpose,” said Nishikori, a three-time quarter-finalist in Paris. The former US Open finalist has now won 10 of his last 11 five-setters. 

“Today, my energy level was not great. I had a four hours first match, four hours today,” he added.

“After the third set lost, I kept telling myself if I want to keep playing. There was no answer for me, but I just keep playing. 

“My body said no, but my mind was just ‘keep playing’. So I was able to win the fourth set without thinking anything.”

“Everybody tells me I have a good record. Sometimes I have to think that I have to keep building my record after going five sets.

“I think in fifth sets I’m really playing good tennis, more than any other sets.”

The former world number four, who has got good stamina, will be looking to go a long way in major tournaments. He has won 12 titles in his career. However, he came to the tournament with his lowest career ranking of 49 since 2011.

“I only lost to top-10 players. You can say I’m not beating top-10 players right now, but I think things are getting much better for me,” said Nishikori.

 Meanwhile he has improved his record in the five set matches at Roland Garros to 9-2 and 26-7 in his career.

“I think I’m on the way to the top 10 again. I’m really enjoying this moment.”

He will play Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen in the third round on Friday.

Sportslumo Desk

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