Nishikori launches Barcelona Open defence in style

Top-seed seals straight-sets win over Gabashvili; Nadal to face Almagro

    Nishikori held his serve to seal the win in just 68 minutes [Getty Images]
    Nishikori held his serve to seal the win in just 68 minutes [Getty Images]

    Top-seed Kei Nishikori began the defence of his Barcelona Open title with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia.

    Nishikori hit 22 winners and held his serve to win the second-round match on the outdoor clay court in one hour, eight minutes.

    The fifth-ranked Japanese player could face last year's runner-up Santiago Giraldo on Thursday if the Colombian gets past Joao Sousa.

    Nicolas Almagro also advanced to the second round, where he will face eight-time winner Rafael Nadal, after opponent Paolo Lorenzi retired 10 minutes into the match with Almagro leading 3-0.

    Last year, Almagro stunned Nadal in the quarter-finals, ending Nadal's run of 41 straight wins at the tournament.

    "It was a great first match,'' Nishikori said. "It was my first match of the year on clay, so I was little tight, but I played a great two sets today.''

    Earlier, Russian teenager Andrey Rublev beat 2010 champion Fernando Verdasco 7-6, 6-3 in the first round. The 17-year-old Rublev, who entered as a qualifier ranked 329th, broke the Spaniard three times while saving five break chances.

    SOURCE: AP


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Revival: The Muslim Response to the Crusades

    Revival: The Muslim Response to the Crusades

    This part of 'The Crusades: An Arab Perspective' explores the birth of the Muslim revival in the face of the Crusades.

    Going undercover as a sex worker

    Going undercover as a sex worker

    A photojournalist describes how she posed as a prostitute to follow the trade in human flesh.

    Africa is not poor, we are stealing its wealth

    Africa is not poor, we are stealing its wealth

    It's time to change the way we talk and think about Africa.