Nishikori Survives Cramps to Beat No. 29 Monaco
By Ray Krueger
Kei Nishikori cramping up on Monday. (EPA/Peter Foley)
Kei Nishikori of Japan did not look as solid as his two-sets-to-one lead over Juan Monaco of Argentina, the 29th seed. He was serving at 5-2, 40-30 with a match point, but he slowly walked to the wall behind the court.
He gingerly stretched both calves, pushing against the backstop as if he expected it to move.
He stepped to the baseline, served and eventually delivered a blistering down-the-line backhand to close it out, 6-2, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. He lifted his hands to the sky showing equal parts joy, relief and exhaustion.
Nishikori, 18, who is ranked 126th, had won his first match in a Grand Slam tournament. In his only other appearance in a Grand Slam, at Wimbledon in June, he retired with a stomach muscle injury against Marc Gicquel after splitting two sets.
Today he called the trainer after he said he started to feel cramps in his legs at 3-2 in the fourth set. “I couldn’t move,” he said. But he was able to get past a struggling Monaco.