Nishikori sweeps into Wimbledon third round

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11:11 PM June 27th, 2013

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June 27th, 2013 11:11 PM

Kei Nishikori AP PHOTO

LONDON — Kei Nishikori equalled his best performance at Wimbledon as the Japanese 12th seed reached the third round with a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-2 victory over Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer on Thursday.

Nishikori last year became the first Japanese man to reach the third round at the All England Club since 1995, but he is aiming even higher this time.

The world number 11 believes he can emulate his former junior coach Shuzo Matsuoka, who made the Wimbledon last eight in 1995, before losing to Pete Sampras, in Japan’s best men’s performance at the tournament.

The 23-year-old next faces Italian 23rd seed Andreas Seppi for a place in the last 16.

A victory over Seppi would leave Nishikori just one win away from equalling his historic performance at the 2012 Australian Open, when he became the first Japanese male quarter-finalist in Melbourne in 80 years.

Nishikori, who reached the fourth round at the recent French Open, before losing to eventual winner Rafael Nadal, made a fast start as he broke Mayer in the second game of the match.

Nishikori has practiced with Mayer on a regular basis for several years, so the world number 84’s game held few surprises.

The Argentine saved three set points at 4-5, but Nishikori kept the pressure on and won the set in a tie-break.

Nishikori needed a small strapping fixed to his left knee before the start of the second set, but looked untroubled as he broke twice to take a two-set lead.

When Nishikori landed another break in the first game of the third set, the match was effectively over.

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