MELBOURNE – Kei Nishikori survived a dramatic Australian Open first-round match Tuesday after his Polish qualifier opponent retired with cramp in the searing Melbourne heat having raced to a shock two-set lead.
Eighth seed Nishikori of Japan won 3-6, 6-7 (6/8), 6-0, 6-2, 3-0 but the scoreline fails to tell the story of world number 176 Kamil Majchrzak's torrid end to the match.
Majchrzak had never before played in a Tour-level event other than Davis Cup ties but showed no sign of nerves against Nishikori, who won his 12th ATP Tour at the Brisbane International warm-up.
It was the young Pole's first ever match against a top 50 opponent but you would never have known it as he took a two-set lead with a succession of blistering winners off both wings.
“I have to say he had it today,” conceded Nishikori. “He played very well and it was unfortunate how it finished. I didn't do anything, but he was hurt and I feel sorry for him.”