Melbourne: Rising Japanese star Kei Nishikori fought back from two sets down to stay alive in the Australian Open on Thursday.
Nishikori, the highest-ranked Japanese men's player ever, at 24, won just four games in the first two sets as Australian Matthew Ebden threatened to run away with the match on Margaret Court Arena.
But the 22-year-old dug deep to turn the match around and dropped just two games in the final two sets to run out a 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 winner against the home favourite.
Tatsuma Ito, given a wildcard to compete in Melbourne, could not match his compatriot, crashing out in four sets to France's Nicolas Mahut, 6-1, 6-7 (6/8), 2-6, 2-6.
The last time there was more than one Japanese man in the second round of a grand slam event with a draw of 128 players was the French Open in 1974, when there were three.
And the win for 22-year-old Nishikori means he has matched his best result in Melbourne, which he achieved last year.
Ranked as low as 98th at the end of 2010, the Japanese player enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2011, beating world number one Novak Djokovic and reaching two tour finals.
Nishikori is aiming to top his best ever grand slam performance, the US Open fourth round in 2008, by making the quarter-finals in Melbourne.