Nishikori labors to opening Halle win

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HALLE WESTFALEN, Germany: Japanese star Kei Nishikori needed nearly two hours to overcome Frenchman Lucas Pouille in the Halle Open first round on Monday (Tuesday in Manila).

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The 26-year-old second seed dropped the first set before fighting back to win 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-4 in 1hr 51min. He will play either American Brian Baker or Germany’s Florian Mayer in the second round.

Nishikori’s was one of only four matches completed on the German grass on Monday.

And the twice former semi-finalist in Halle said he was feeling comfortable in Germany.

“I’ve been feeling like home here… This is very easy, convenient,” said Nishikori.

Fifth seed David Goffin of Belgium was also made to work hard before overcoming Borna Coric 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (7/3), 6-4.

Top seed Roger Federer, the record eight-time winner of the event, including the last three, doesn’t start till Wednesday against home wildcard Jan-Lennard Struff.

Third seed Dominic Thiem was still in Stuttgart on Monday securing the title in a 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 6-4 rain-delayed victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Austrian Thiem will start against Joao Sousa of Portugal on Wednesday.

AFP

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