Nishikori out of U.S. Open in first-round stunner

Mon Aug 31, 2015 4:06pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fourth seed Kei Nishikori's hopes of making another magical U.S. Open run came to a quick end on Monday as last year's runner-up fell at the first hurdle, falling 6-4 3-6 4-6 7-6(6) 6-4 to Frenchman Benoit Paire.

The 26-year-old Paire, having collected his maiden ATP Tour title last month in Bastad, brought his good from to Flushing Meadows grinding out a three hour 14 minute victory to get the season's final grand slam off to a shocking start.

"It's always very sad to lose in the first round, but I think he was playing good tennis," said Nishikori. "I don't think I played badly. Didn't play great, but still, it's never easy first match."

Japan's Nishikori, whose run last year included grueling five-set wins over Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka and a shock victory over world number one Novak Djokovic, had looked ready to survive the opening test coming back from a wobbly first set.

But after the 41st ranked Paire fought off two match points to take the fourth set tiebreak 8-6 then carried the momentum into the fifth set where he recorded the decisive break to go up 3-2 before finishing off Nishikori with a thundering ace.

"I had match point and I kind of lost a little bit my forehand," said Nishikori. "I mean, tiebreak can go both ways so maybe I lost a little bit of concentration but he was hitting good serves, too.

"Especially the first couple games in the fifth set, I lost my concentration and he returned well, too. I mean, credit for him, too, playing good tennis with these conditions."

A three-time winner on the ATP Tour this season, Nishikori arrived at Flushing Meadows as one of the favorites to capture the year's last grand slam.   Continued...

Kei Nishikori of Japan reacts after losing a point to Benoit Paire of France during their match at the U.S. Open Championships tennis tournament in New York, August 31, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar