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Kei Nishikori returns to the Tour for the first time in nearly two years.

Former world number 4 Kei Nishikori returned to action for the first time since October 2021, beating Christian Langmo 6-2 6-4 at the Carribean Open Challenger. The Japanese star underwent arthroscopic left hip surgery last year and had not played a match since the BNP Paribas Open in October 2021. He showed little sign of discomfort though, as he won against the 333rd ATP-ranked American in an hour and 45 minutes.

Match Analysis

Nishikori broke for the second time in game seven to forge a 5-2 lead and serve for the opener. He forced Langmo’s mistake to close the opener in style, hoping for more in set number two. The American squandered his chances at 1-1 and fell on the third break point after Nishikori’s lob winner. The Japanese veteran held at love in game four with a serve & volley combo for 3-1 and missed two break chances in the fifth game to keep the rival within one break deficit. Langmo stepped in on the return in the sixth game and drew Nishikori’s volley error for a break at love and 3-3. The American held in game seven to move in front and had a game point for 5-4. Nishikori extended the game and delivered a crucial break following Langmo’s loose forehand. Kei served for the victory at 5-4 and capitalized on wayward shots to claim his first victory in over a year and a half.

After the match, Nishikori said his body felt heavy but overall things went pretty smoothly. Nishikori has been outside of the world rankings since mid-October due to his long injury layoff. Nishikori, 33, is a 12-time tour-level titlist. In 2014, the Japanese star was a finalist at the US Open and two years later, Nishikori earned the bronze medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. He owns a 431-211 career match record. The Japanese extended his winning streak at Challengers and continued where he left in Dallas in February 2018. The 33-year-old will next meet seventh seed Mitchell Krueger in the second round at the hard-court event.


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