Tenth seed Kei Nishikori needed 90 minutes to beat Ivan Dodig 6-4, 6-4 on Monday at the Mutua Madrid Open.
"I started well," said Nishikori. "I broke his serve in the first game. He's not easy to play. He has a great serve and he comes to the net sometimes. But I played really well. There was just one bad game, on my serve at 3-2 in the second set. Otherwise, it was an almost perfect match.”
World No. 12 Nishikori is attempting to become the first Japanese man to crack the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. He won his first clay-court title at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Giraldo) eight days ago and will next challenge wild card Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the Madrid second round.
Nishikori beat Roger Federer en route to last year’s quarter-finals (l. to Andujar). "[Beating Roger] was my best memory of last year,” said Nishikori. “I was very happy about that and I'm trying to do well here again this year."
Kei Nishikori serves against Ivan Dodig of Croatia in their first round match during day three of the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament at the Caja Magica on May 5, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.
+ Kei Nishikori | Yen-Hsun Lu | Somdev Devvarman | Yeu-Tzuoo Wang | Di Wu
Hyeon Chung | Dennis Istomin | Ze Zhang | Go Soeda | Tatsuma Ito | Yuichi Sugita | Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi | Rohan Bopanna | Danai Udomchoke | Tsung-Hua Yang | Hiroki Moriya | Mao-Xin Gong | Hyung-Taik Lee | Paradorn Srichaphan | Takao Suzuki
Fernando Gonzalez | Max Mirnyi | Jo-Wilfried Tsonga | Tommy Haas | Ricardas Berankis | Xavier Malisse | Andreas Seppi | David Ferrer | Juan Martin Del Potro | Tim Smyczek | Olivier Rochus | Victor Troicki | Horatio Zeballos | Lleyton Hewitt | Nick Kyrgios | Mario Ancic | Peter Luczak
ATP Tokyo 2012, ATP Memphis 2013 Champion Kei Nishikori
Kei Nishikori holds his runner up trophy as Queen Sofia of Spain applauds after the Madrid Open tennis tournament men's final match against Rafael Nadal from Spain in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, May 11, 2014.
Kei Nishikori shakes hands with Queen Sofia of Spain as Rafael Nadal watches following their Madrid Open tennis tournament final match in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, May 11, 2014. Nadal won his fourth Madrid Open on Sunday after Nishikori was forced to withdraw with a hip injury when trailing 2-6, 6-4, 3-0 in the final.
Kei Nishikori returns the ball during a training session for the French Open tennis tournament, at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Friday, May 23, 2014. The French Open tennis tournament starts Sunday.