Kei Nishikori reaches Australian Open third round but giant Ivo Karlovic makes him work hard in five-set thriller
- Kei Nishikori is one of the main contenders for the men’s singles competition
- Nishikori, seeded eighth, came up against 39-year-old Ivo Karlovic on Thursday
- Karlovic managed pull sets back after going 2-0 down but eventually lost
- Nishikori is in the top side of the draw, which includes No 1 seed Novak Djokovic
Kei Nishikori survived a huge scare against Croatian Ivo Karlovic before reaching the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-3, 7-6 (8-6), 5-7, 5-7, 7-6 (9-7) win on Thursday.
On a sweltering afternoon at Margaret Court Arena, eighth seed Nishikori appeared set to coast to victory after taking the first two sets but was dragged into a dogfight by the big-serving 39-year-old.
Nishikori isn’t making it easy on himself so far this tournament after losing the first two sets of his first-round match and then allowing Karlovic to get back into this match.
Kei Nishikori made it through to the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday
Nishikori fell to his knees after coming through a gruelling five-set thriller in Melbourne
Nishikori is one of the main contenders for the opening Grand Slam of the tennis season
Nishikori, who dropped to his knees after hitting a service winner on match point, led 4-1 in the final-set 10-point tiebreaker but allowed Karlovic to take a 7-6 lead in it.
But a backhand long and service return long by Karlovic allowed Nishikori to retake the lead that he didn’t relinquish.
After weathering 59 aces from Karlovic, the Japanese held firm and will play the winner of Joao Sousa and Philipp Kohlschreiber for a place in the fourth round.
Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic fought hard, particularly in the second set against his opponent
The 39-year-old pulled gave himself a chance when he claimed the third and fourth set
The pair went locked at two sets all and put on a show for those on Margaret Court Arena