Tennis

Kei Nishikori Records 100th Grand Slam Win; Aslan Karatsev Falls | ATP Tour

Kei Nishikori became only the 12th active player to record 100 Grand Slam match wins on Wednesday as he moved past Australian Alexei Popyrin 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the second round at Wimbledon.

The former World No. 4 hit 30 winners and broke Popyrin three times for victory in just under two hours. He reached the quarter-finals at the All England Club in 2019 to equal his best result at Wimbledon, and will next face Jordan Thompson after he overcame 12th seeded-Norwegian Casper Ruud 7-6(6), 7-6(3), 2-6, 2-6, 6-2.

“I started really well. I think it the first set I was a little bit shaky, but in the second and third sets, I played really good solid points,” Nishikori said. “I served well and I think the return was key. I broke one game in each set, so I am really happy with how I played today.”

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Nishikori has had runs to the quarter-finals at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (l. Borna Coric) and the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (l. Lloyd Harris) this year. He is 15-12 on the season. Popyrini won his maiden ATP Tour title at the Singapore Tennis Open (d. Bublik) in February. The World No. 67 is now 16-13 on the season.

Elsewhere, Jeremy Chardy snapped a fourth-match losing streak and claimed his first grass-court victory of the season as he overcame 2021 breakthrough star Aslan Karatsev 7-6(4), 7-6(6), 6-3.

The Frenchman hit 13 aces and won 75 per cent (38/51) of his first-service points to advance to the second round in two hours and 27 minutes. The 34-year-old is now 16-15 on the season and next faces Ilya Ivashka.

“To be back at Wimbledon is very special,” Chardy said. “I love to play on grass. I was lucky to spend one week at home before the tournament, so I was really happy to enjoy that with the family. I am really happy with my match today, I think I played a really solid match from the beginning to the end.”

Chardy, No. 61 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, enjoyed a run to the semi-finals at the Antalya Open (l. to Bublik) in January. He produced a strong display to defeat 20th seeded-Russian Karatsev, who was making his Wimbledon debut. In a tight opening set, Karatsev saved the only break point in the 12th game to force a tie-break, which Chardy sealed when Karatsev netted a backhand.

History repeated itself in the second set with Chardy clinching another tie-break, after both fended off break points. He then fired 10 winners in the third set to advance.

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Karatsev has enjoyed a best-ever season, recording 23 tour-levels wins. The 27-year-old claimed the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title in March (d. Harris) after a run to the semi-finals at the Australian Open in February (l. to Djokovic). The Russian lost in qualifying at SW19 in 2014 and 2015.

Meanwhile, the 25th seed Karan Khachanov moved past Egor Gerasimov 6-1, 7-6(3), 6-3 to set up a third-round meeting with Stefanos Tsitsipas’ conqueror, Frances Tiafoe.

Khachanov reached the third round at Wimbledon in 2019 and 2017 and fired 41 winners to equal his best-ever run at the All England Club. The Russian, who reached the semi-finals at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon (l. to Norrie) in May, recorded victory in one hour and 51 minutes.

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