Kei Nishikori identifies key features behind brilliant win over Andrey Rublev at Olympics

Shahida Jacobs
Kei Nishikori in action

Experience and mental toughness were crucial reasons behind Kei Nishikori’s upset win over Andrey Rublev at the Tokyo Olympics with the Japanese star admitting “experience helps a lot”.

Competing in his fourth Olympics, Nishikori brushed aside fifth seed Rublev from ROC 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 16 minutes in the opening round.

Former world No 4 Nishikori broke twice in the first set with Rublev getting one break back before the 31-year-old served it out, while one break in the second set was enough to earn the win.

Nishikori has been struggling with injury the past few years, but his win over world No 7 Rublev came at the right time.

“You know it’s been a while playing like this and playing to beat top 10 players. I think it’s been two years already,” the 2004 US Open runner-up said.

“I was a little bit worried if I got nervous on the court but I wasn’t, so that’s a good sign.”

He added: “I think experience helps a lot. The first Olympics (in 2008) I was really nervous, and I have a bad memory about that (after losing in the first round) but since then, I think I got many experience, I got strong mentally, and I’m playing good.”

World No 4 and French Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitispas also advanced, but he didn’t have it all his own way as he dropped a set against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Up next for the Greek is Frances Tiafoe after the American beat Korea Republic’s Soonwoo Kwon 6-3, 6-2.

Fourth seed Alexander Zverev had no problems booking his place in the second round as the German defeated Chinese Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu 6-1, 6-3. He will take on Daniel Elahi Galan for a place in the third round after the Colombian defeated Mohamed Safwat 7-5, 6-1.

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