MIAMI (Reuters) – A stunned Kei Nishikori was sent packing from the Miami Open after the Japanese world number six suffered a 2-6 6-2 6-3 second-round loss to Serbian Dusan Lajovic on Friday.
Fifth-seed Nishikori had a first-round bye and appeared to be heading for a routine victory until Lajovic, who was misfiring in the early stages of the match, suddenly stepped up his game.
“He definitely raised his level (in the) second and third sets. He started playing more solid from the baseline. He wasn’t missing much like in the first set. He served well in the end,” said Nishikori. “Maybe I didn’t play quite my best today. Credit to him today.”
Next up for world number 44 Lajovic, who had lost in the first round of five tour-level events this season, will be a clash with either 27th seed Nick Kyrgios or qualifier Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan.
Nishikori, who was playing in his first match since falling in the third round at Indian Wells last week, had his serve broken five times during the match.
“I’m trying to keep my head up,” said Nishikori. “Claycourt season is coming. It’s a completely new season. I’ll try to have good practice, two more weeks, and be ready for Monte Carlo.”
In other early men’s action, Croatian 11th seed Borna Coric beat Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena, British 19th seed Kyle Edmund beat Belarusian Ilya Ivashka, 23rd seed Gilles Simon lost to French compatriot Jeremy Chardy and Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia beat German Mischa Zverev.
Top seed Novak Djokovic will kick off the night session with a clash against Australian Bernard Tomic.
(Reporting by Steve Keating; Writing by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)