Nishikori and Berdych open their grass court campaign with victories in Halle

Kei Nishikori advanced to second round in Halle

HALLE, June 16, 2015

Seven seeds were in action on a jam-packed Tuesday at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle.

In the opening match on Day 2, second seed Kei Nishikori beat Dominic Thiem, winning 7-6, 7-5 in their first tour meeting. The world number five withstood 11 aces from the Austrian and lost his service only once. Nishikori capitalized on two of his five break points recording his 35th match win of the season after one hour and 49 minutes.

“For my first match on grass I played quite well, even though there were a couple of ups and downs. We could have easily played three sets,” Nishikori said after the match. “Dominic serves were really very good. I’m sure he is going to be in the top-ten soon,” the 25-year-old Japanese told facing German wild card Dustin Brown in the second round. “He is not a normal player and he does a lot of entertaining – so I’ll have to concentrate on the match.”

The tournament’s number three Tomas Berdych defeated Victor Estrella Burgos in their first meeting, winning 7-5, 6-3. The 29-year-old Czech, who is making his seventh appearance in Halle, claiming the title here in 2007, saved the only break point he faced and to serve out after one hour and 24 minutes.

“It was definitely not easy playing my first match on grass,” told Berych. “It was tricky, but also a good challenge. Of course, I want to improve but I am also happy the way I handled it today. I had good preparation spending one week in London and I hope I can profit from that. But every single match will be a sharp test. I am looking forward to play as many matches as possible.” Next chance for that will be on Wednesday, when the Czech is facing Borna Coric for a quarterfinals spot.

Fourth seed Gael Monfils emerged victorious from the second meeting with Lukas Rosol, winning 6-3, 6-4. The 28-year-old also won the only previous encounter at the Davis Cup last year and confirmed his good performance again on Halle’s grass. Monfils won 82% of his first service points and saved the two break points he faced to end the match after only 59 minutes.

Jan de Witt, the Frenchman’s coach, was delighted with Monfils’ performance: “This has been his best match on grass so far. He has the game to play on this surface as well. He just needs to get some more practice,” said the German.

Monfils will face Mikhail Kukushkin in the second round. The 27-year-old Kazakh defeated Jiri Vesely 6-1, 6-7, 7-5 after two hours and 16 minutes in their first tour meeting.

Andreas Seppi gained his second victory over Tommy Haas in their fifth tour meeting, winning 7-5, 6-2. The 31-year-old Italian beat the German veteran in one hour and 26 minutes for a second time in Halle following his victory in 2011.

“I lost the last couple of times against Tommy but it was always close. He is not at his best at the moment, that was good for me but I played solid and I am happy with this win. I knew that I had to return well and this worked out for me,” said Seppi and added that he wants to play as many tournaments as possible on grass. “Halle is perfect for my preparation for Wimbledon, the hotel is on-site and the conditions are great.”

Seppi will face fifth seed Tommy Robredo next. The 33-year-old Spaniard had to go the distance, winning 6-4, 6-7, 7-6 against Ricardas Berankis. Robredo converted four of his eight break points to seal victory after two hours and 41 minutes.

Seventh seed Bernard Tomic was knocked out by Steve Johnson, losing 3-6, 6-7 in 65 minutes. The tournament’s number six Pablo Cuevas lost to Jerzy Janowicz 3-6, 4-6 in the same match time. Eighth seed Ivo Karlovic overcame Santiago Giraldo, winning 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 in one hour and 49 minutes to face German wild card Alexander Zverev next.

Ernests Gulbis celebrated his only fourth match win of the season beating Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4, 7-6. The 26-year-old Lithuanian saved all three break points he faced taking on Halle’s top-favourite Roger Federer for their fifth tour meeting on Wednesday. The world number 86 beat the Swiss in two of the previous meetings, he also emerged victorious from the last encounter between the two at Roland Garros last year.