Kei Nishikori picked up his first win at the ATP World Tour Finals with a three set win over Tomas Berdych. The Japanese number one showed off why he is so good in deciding sets, playing the important points at his best to defeat the Czech 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.
Nishikori Breaks Late To Tale Opening Set
Both men were looking to get off the mark at this World Tour Finals after blowout losses to Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer respectively. Berdych nearly fell behind in the opening game in which he was serving as Nishikori gave him no breathing room in that opening service game. The Czech eventually held to open up the proceedings at 1-0. Both players were strong on serve because it took until the fifth game to see the first break points of the match. However, they were saved thanks to some deep hitting from the Czech which forced errors from Nishikori.
Neither man was backing down on their service games as they continued to hold. Nishikori finally got the break in the 11th game. It took him a couple of chances to convert thanks to some excellent serving from Berdych as well as some poor errors from the Japanese number one. Despite that, the Czech number one played a couple of loose points to surrender the break.
The Czech found himself in touch with Nishikori with the Japanese serving for the set, however, a simple winner down the line at 40-30 clinched the set.
Berdych Falls Behind But Steamrolls To Force Decisive Set
Berdych once again found himself in early trouble in his service game. Nishikori took advantage of some lackadaisical second serves to break to open the second. It was a fifth consecutive game for the eight seed as he held for a 2-0 lead, but after that is when Berdych turned it around.
The Czech picked up his level after this and steamrolled his way to five consecutive games with Nishikori taking his foot off the gas just a bit and an exceptional performance from the Czech. Nishikori finally held for the second time in the set to force the Czech to serve out for the set at 5-3. Berdych did just that to force a deciding set.
Nishikori Delivers To Earn First Victory
The third felt more like the first in terms of how both men were holding serve. However, there were early break chances for both players that they failed to capitalize on. Nishikori earned the vital break at 3-5 with some stunning defense as the Czech dumped a basic mid-court rally ball into the net. Nishikori closed out the match to give himself a much better shot at advancing. The eight seed now improves his record to 17-5 in deciding sets and improves that mark to 84-22 all-time, best in history.