Nishikori Cruises Past Evans In Opener

© 2017 Michael Cummo/BNP Paribas Open

Fourth seed Kei Nishikori booked his spot in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Daniel Evans.

The Japanese star advanced in 85 minutes, converting four of nine break points to record his second win in three meetings with Evans, who famously upset Nishikori four years ago in the US Open first round.


"Everything was good," said Nishikori. "I returned well, obviously, to break his serve two times.

"It was a tough match. Obviously he's been playing well. I know he can play great tennis, and when he was playing aggressively he was pretty tough to play. But I think I managed really well from the first point until the end."

The 27-year-old Nishikori, a runner-up twice already this year in Brisbane (l. to Dimitrov) and Buenos Aires (l. to Dolgopolov), improved to a 10-4 mark on the season. He posted his best result in Indian Wells last year, when he reached the quarterfinals (l. to Nadal).

Nishikori goes on to face this year’s Sydney champion Gilles Muller, who struck 15 aces as he defeated Jiri Vesely 7-6(1), 6-1.

Lucas Pouille continued his strong run of form as he defeated Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 6-2 in 71 minutes. The Frenchman is coming off a runner-up showing in Marseille (l. to Tsonga) and a semifinal in Dubai (l. to Murray). Pouille goes on to face Donald Young, who defeated last week’s Acapulco champion Sam Querrey 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in an all-American second-round contest.

#NextGenATP star Alexander Zverev saved three set points in a tense opener against Facundo Bagnis before finishing strongly to claim a 7-6(10), 6-3 victory in one hour and 40 minutes. The 19-year-old German, who is already in the Top 20 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, is looking for another strong run in the desert after a stellar performance last year, which saw him hold match point in a fourth-round defeat to Rafael Nadal.


"It wasn't an easy match," said Zverev. "I'm just happy to get through that one and I look forward to the next round. I'm in a tough quarter. Me, Kyrgios, Novak, Rafa, Roger and Del Potro in one quarter, something like that will never happen again."

Zverev will meet Nick Kyrgios in an intriguing third-round contest, after the Australian defeated Horacio Zeballos 6-3, 6-4. Kyrgios will face Zverev for the first time after opening his Indian Wells bid with victory in 71 minutes, winning 81 per cent of his service points. The 21 year old is coming off back-to-back semifinals in Marseille (l. to Tsonga) and Acapulco (l. to Querrey).  

"I'm looking forward to it," said Kyrgios. "We have been obviously close mates for a long time. I played him once in juniors, and I thought he had a big game then. He's obviously put it together. He's had some great results, beaten some big names.

"I know it's going to be tough, especially on this surface. If he plays his aggressive game, it's not going to be easy to get looks on his serve, and it's the same for me. If I go out there and play my style of tennis and I lose, I won't be surprised. But if I win, I won't be surprised, as well."