Fighting fatigue and frustration after losing in the Olympic quarterfinals, Japan’s K. Nishikori defeated American Sam Query 6-4, 6-3 on Monday to advance to the ATP City Open.
Nishikori, who won a bronze medal in the 2016 Rio Olympic singles, became the first person to reach the Olympic quarterfinals for the first time, before falling to top-ranked Novak Djokovic in Tokyo.
He flew to Washington and won his first night match at the US Open Hard Court Tunp event.
“I was really tired after coming from Japan and I couldn’t believe I was ready,” Nishikori said. “But on the court I was fine, playing very good tennis.
“The first match is never easy. I wasn’t expecting 100 but I hope I can continue like this.”
The 2015 Washington Champion Nishikori is up against ninth seed Alexander Bablik of Kazakhstan in the second round. The winner could meet top seed Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals.
Nishikori, ranked 67th, took a break in the ninth game and was held again when 68th-ranked Query sent a long backhand to take the first set in 40 minutes.
In the second set, Nishikori refused to stop the query 3-3 on five break points, then broke twice for the victory, a backhand return winner ends matters after 86 minutes.
“It was the hardest moment,” Nishikori said of the sixth game. “If he had a game, I think he had a whole set. But after that I was a little more free and I was playing better.
“I came back very well in these games and I’m very happy with how I played.”
Nishikori, 31, took a 7-4 lead in the career rivalry with his sixth win in seven matches, a run that began with a 2014 victory for Washington.
Query, 33, reached his first ATP final in two years in Mallorca in June, losing to Russia’s Daniel Medvedev, but continues to lose five matches.
12-time ATP champion Nishikori won his only title in 2019 in Brisbane in the last five years.
Jenson Brooksby, a 20-year-old U.S. wildcard, defeated 75th-ranked Kevin Anderson of South Africa 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 in a rematch of the Newport final last month.
“Playing recently has definitely helped me at that point,” Brooksby said.
Brooksby, ranked 130th, won the last six points of the tiebreaker, taking the first set when Anderson sent a backhand wide.
“At 1-4, I was just frustrated with myself. I made a lot of bad decisions in a row,” Brooksby said. “I got the first point and it came back. I continued it in the second set and I was proud of it.”
Brooksby won in one hour and 50 minutes. They meet 16th seed and local hero Frances Tiafo in the second round match on Tuesday.
Marcos Geron, the 64th-ranked American Olympian, defeated Elijah Marchenko of Ukraine 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/1) to book a date with British seventh seed Cameron Norry.
Geron lost to Nishikori in the second round of the Olympics.
“It was an incredible experience to be with all these great players,” he said. “I can’t imagine how it would be without all the restrictions.
“Being around greatness, what they do was incredible. It was impressive. I really want to try to make it Paris (in 2024).”
Italy’s Andreas Seppi defeated Japan’s Yasutaka Yuchiyama 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. CP’s next meeting is with Canadian second seed Felix Auger Alice, whom he knocked out in the first round of this year at Roland Garros.