Nishikori hails `perfect` start at Wimbledon

AFP| Last Updated: Jun 26, 2014, 20:00 PM IST

London: Kei Nishikori admitted he had made a perfect start to his Wimbledon campaign as the Japanese 10th seed moved into the third round with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 thrashing of American qualifier Denis Kudla on Thursday.

Nishikori has never gone past the third round at the All England Club in five attempts, but the world number 12 looks a good bet to end that frustrating run this year.

He was far too strong for Kudla, hitting 40 winners to just 14 from the world number 136, and hasn`t dropped a set in his opening two matches.

The 24-year-old will Italy`s Simone Bolelli for a place in the last 16.

"It`s been almost perfect first and second rounds for me," Nishikori said.

"This year after the claycourt season I gained more confidence. My tennis is changing, more consistent, and everything is going well.

"Even on grass, my serve is getting better. Also I can be more aggressive from the groundstrokes now. I try to come in more on grass especially. I feel really comfortable."

Nishikori had expected to face a tough test from German 22nd seed Philipp Kohlschreiber in the last 32, but instead he has a winnable tie against Bolelli, the world number 132 who only qualified for the tournament as a lucky loser, defeating Japan`s Tatsuma Ito in the first round before shocking Kohlschreiber.

Nishikori, whose best run at a Grand Slam came in 2012 when he reached the Australian Open quarter-finals, has lost in the Wimbledon third round for the last two years.

But his pre-Wimbledon grasscourt practice sessions with coach Michael Chang appear to be paying dividends already.

Following that intense training period with former French Open champion Chang, Nishikori reached the Halle semi-finals on grass.

He was never threatened by Ukraine-born Kudla, a 21-year-old who looked out of his depth as the Japanese star cruised to victory in 88 minutes on Court 18.

Asked if he feels ready to make a long run at Wimbledon, Nishikori`s upbeat response spoke volumes.

"Hopefully I can go win the next one and make a big jump here," he said.

"It was almost a perfect game for me. I was able to break his serve early in each set and that meant I could relax. I was able to attack his groundstrokes. Also I returned was well today.

"He didn`t have a big serve, so I was able to put some pressure on his service game. Everything worked well today."