Wawrinka, Nishikori reaches quarterfinals in Brisbane
ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 04, 2017 09:16 PM
"For sure it's a bit different conditions, but I don't think it will change much for the preparation for Australia." - Stan Wawrinka (FILE/ AP Photo)
JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — A change of scenery didn't change much about the outcome of Stan Wawrinka's opening match of the season.
The U.S. Open champion won his debut match at the Brisbane International tournament on Wednesday, beating Viktor Troicki 7-6 (5), 6-4 to move into the quarterfinals against Kyle Edmund.
Wawrinka previously made a habit of winning the title in Chennai to warm up for the Australian Open. From 2014-16, he won the Indian event without dropping a set.
At 31, though, he decided it was time for a change. He is seeded second in Brisbane, his main tuneup for the season's first Grand Slam tournament beginning Jan. 16.
"For sure it's a bit different conditions, but I don't think it will change much for the preparation for Australia," said Wawrinka, who won his first major title at Melbourne Park in 2014. "When you've been on the tour for so long, to play some new tournaments, it makes you a little bit fresher mentally."
Third-seeded Kei Nishikori was rusty in his season-opening match against Jared Donaldson but found enough to hold off the American qualifier 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Eighth-seeded David Ferrer didn't make it that far, saving four match points on serve late in the third set before losing to Australian wild-card entry Jordan Thompson 4-6, 7-5, 7-5.
Thompson, who won only three of his 13 matches in 2016, is already 2-0 this week and reached his first ATP Tour-level quarterfinal match. Next up is Nishikori.
Nishikori, a three-time semifinalist in Brisbane, had a first-round bye and started the second round by racing to a 4-0 lead. But Donaldson responded and won the next six games to take the opening set in less than an hour.
After jumping to a 3-0 lead in the second, Nishikori dropped another service game but this time used his experience in pressure situations to calmly regain control.
"I had a great start, and then I had one bad game after 4-0," Nishikori said. "I think it's a matter of my concentration ... a mental thing. After that he started playing much better ... and his forehand was on fire.
"It was really close. He had many chance to win a set and win the match, so, I mean, finally, in the last set I started playing like first couple of games and started dominating."
Sixth-seeded Lucas Pouille was trailing Edmund 6-3, 3-1 when he retired from their second-round match because of blisters.
A day after becoming the first player born in the 2000s to win a main draw match at an elite WTA event, Destanee Aiava lost to two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-3 in the women's second round.
"It's pretty scary (but) I learned a lot out of that match," said the 16-year-old Aiava, adding that she had gained "confidence, maybe, in my game and myself, knowing that I do belong here."
Aiava will return to her hometown Melbourne, where she will play an exhibition tournament next week to continue preparations for her first Grand Slam event. She has a wild-card entry for the Australian Open, where she is set to be the first player born this millennium to play a Grand Slam main draw match.
Kuznetsova will play French Open champion and fourth-seeded Garbine Muguruza in the quarterfinals.
Second-seeded Dominika Cibulkova rallied from a set and a break down to beat Zhang Shuai 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in her first competitive match since beating No. 1 Angelique Kerber to clinch the season-ending WTA Finals title. No. 8-seeded Roberta Vinci beat Misaki Doi 6-4, 6-2 in another second-round match.