Kei Nishikori took another significant step on Sunday in his comeback from right elbow surgery almost one year ago. As the Japanese star sat back into his chair on Court 14, after a 1-6, 6-1, 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-4 victory over No. 32 seed Daniel Evans at Roland Garros, he breathed a huge sigh of relief.
In a match full of momentum shifts, Nishikori broke clear with a 3-0 lead in the decider, but fellow 30-year-old Evans responded and came within a point of breaking for a 4-3 advantage. Ultimately, it was Nishikori’s greater groundstroke power that earned him just his second win of 2020 over three hours and 49 minutes, when an aggressive backhand and forehand pinned Evans behind the baseline and forced the error in the final game. Evans had won 138 points to Nishikori’s 135 total points.
Nishikori, who returned to the ATP Tour earlier this month at the Generali Open in Kitzbühel, lost to Cristian Garin in the Hamburg European Open first round last week. He will next play Stefano Travaglia, who moved past Pablo Andujar 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 23 minutes Travaglia won 48 of his 60 first-service points and struck 32 winners.