Australian Open: Kei Nishikori beats Lajovic, heat to progress

Soaring temperatures threatened to upstage Kei Nishikori's focus but the Japanese managed to hold on to seal a win in his second round clash.

Updated: January 16, 2014 11:07 IST
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Melbourne: Japan's Kei Nishikori mastered Dusan Lajovic and the searing heat to reach the Australian Open third round in straight sets on Thursday.

In brutal temperatures, the Japanese 16th seed kept the match to just one hour 49 minutes before prevailing 6-1, 6-1, 7-6 (7/3) over the Serb. (Also read: Play halted due to extreme conditions)

Nishikori, 24, now coached by former French Open champion Michael Chang and playing in heat of 41 Celsius (106 Fahrenheit), reached the third round for the fourth consecutive year.

Nishikori won the opening two sets in just 49 minutes, but he fought off a third-set point from Lajovic before taking the match on a tie-break.

It was another polished performance by the Japanese star, who broke the Serb's service six times and was only broken once, in the eighth game of the final set.

Nishikori was particularly strong on his forehand with 16 winners among his overall total of 30 winners, while conceding 27 unforced errors.

It set up Nishikori with a third-round encounter against either Italian 24th seed Andreas Seppi, who knocked Australian Lleyton Hewitt out in the opening round, or American Donald Young.

Nishikori, who beat Tomas Berdych in the Kooyong Classic final last weekend, enjoyed his best Grand Slam result two years ago in Melbourne when he reached the last eight.

Lajovic lost the decisive fifth rubber to Radek Stepanek when the Czech Republic retained the Davis Cup over Serbia in last year's final in Belgrade in November.

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