French Open: Kei Nishikori defeated Karen Khachanov 4-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in a marathon five-setter to move into the third round.
The Japanese former world No.4 has now spent eight hours on court through two matches.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 2, 2021
Kei Nishikori reached the third round of the French Open on Wednesday having won back-to-back five-setters over a total of eight hours on court and admitted:
“I feel like I’ve played five matches already.” The 31-year-old needed four hours to see off Russian No. 23rd seed Karen Khachanov 4-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Court Philippe Chatrier. In the first round, he also needed four hours to beat Italian qualifier Alessandro Giannessi.
“I feel like I have played five matches already. Trust me, I hate playing five sets. I don’t do it on purpose,” said Nishikori, a three-time quarter-finalist in Paris.
The Russian looked like he would go on to win when he took the third set but after a gruelling exchange of games at the start of the fourth set, all of which went to deuce, Nishikori levelled the match and it was then that his five-set record kicked in.
Today, my energy level was not great. I had four hours first match, four hours today,” he added.
“After the third set lost, I kept telling myself if I want to keep playing. There was no answer for me, but I just keep playing.
“My body said no, but my mind was just ‘keep playing’. So I was able to win the fourth set without thinking anything.”
It makes it tough playing four hours two in a row. (If) I’m aiming to (get to) the final, this is not the best start of the tournament. That’s the only thing I don’t like about it. I feel like I’ve played five matches already. I just try to get good recovery tomorrow and fight another one next.”