Kei Nishikori stands firm as Marin Cilic and Daniil Medvedev bite the dust

Kei Nishikori celebrates

Top seed Kei Nishikori’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship debut match went according to plan as he brushed aside Benoit Paire in the opening round.

Having opted to swap North America for the Middle East this year, Nishikori will have enjoyed his first match in Dubai as he secured a confident 6-4, 6-3 win over his French rival.

One break in the first set and two in the second were enough to set up a second-round clash against Huburt Hurkacz, who beat French qualifier Corentin Moutet 6-3, 7-5.

“It’s never easy playing Benoit, of course. Great serve, great backhand. Tricky player. Good drop-shot, good touch,” Nishkori said after his win.

“The key to the first set was the (eight-minute) long (third) game in the first set. After I got that one, I was more confident – but if he broke back, anything can happen. It was a good match, it’s never easy with this wind. I think I played good enough tennis today.”

Third seed Marin Cilic was beaten by the in-form Gael Monfils with the Frenchman winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-0.

Monfils, who won the Rotterdam Open a fortnight ago, will take on Marcos Baghdatis for a place in the quarter-final.

Eighth seed Daniil Medvedev also fell at the first hurdle as the Russian suffered a 6-3, 6-3 defeat at the hands of Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Beranki.

Next up for Beranki is Denis Kudla after the American saw off Matteo Berrettini of Italy 2-6, 7-5, 7-5 while Egor Gerasimov of Belarus beat Dutchman Robin Haase 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-5).

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