Kei Nishikori could easily have endured a short stay at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, six years on from his debut. But the Japanese star dug deep on Monday to maintain his hold on Tomas Berdych, a resident of the Monaco principality. Nishikori triumphed 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 over one hour and 46 minutes to improve to 5-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
Berdych was pin-point accurate in the first three games — winning 13 of the first 17 points — and he looked set to add to his lone win over Nishikori in the 2012 Monte-Carlo third round.
But it was a different story in the second set when Berdych saved two break point in the first game, prior to a lapse in concentration. From a 1-2 deficit, Nishikori won seven straight games — clinching 28 of the 38 points – including service breaks in the fifth and seventh games, then in the first game of the decider.
Berdych wilted in the heat, winning just seven points in the third set and Nishikori will now prepare to challenge Russian Daniil Medvedev in the second round.