Kei Nishikori grinds out another 5-set win at French Open

French Open 2021: Kei Nishikori takes 5-set win vs. Karen Khachanov
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

PARIS — Two matches. Ten sets. A total of 628 points played.

Just another Grand Slam filled with five-setters for Kei Nishikori.

The former U.S. Open finalist rallied past 23rd-seeded Karen Khachanov 4-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Wednesday to reach the third round of the French Open – after having also gone the distance to beat Italian qualifier Alessandro Giannessi in his opening match.

“My energy level was not great. Four hours first match and four hours today,” Nishikori said. “I just keep playing.

“My body (is) saying no but my mind is saying keep playing. … I feel like (having played) five matches already.”

Nishikori improved to 9-2 in five-set matches at Roland Garros and 26-7 in his career. He’s won 10 of his last 11 five-setters.

Khachanov was treated by a trainer in the fifth set after cutting his right middle finger by hitting his racket strings in anger.

As the match wore on, Nishikori attempted to end points quicker and mixed in different tactics like serve-and-volleying. On his first match point, he unleashed a powerful inside-out forehand that landed so close to the line that even Nishikori hesitated before realizing it was in and the match was finally over after 3 hours, 59 minutes.

“I just tried to be aggressive in the last game,” Nishikori said after breaking Khachanov at love to close it out.

Nishikori next faces Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen, who upset 11th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 for his first victory against a top-20 player.


It’s one thing to play doubles with your little sister. Quite another to pair with someone 23 years your junior.

Just ask Venus Williams.

Williams learned that when she and 17-year-old Coco Gauff were beaten by 13th-seeded Ellen Perez and Zheng Saisai 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3 in the first round.

It marked the first time that Williams had played a Grand Slam doubles match with anyone but her sister. She and Serena Williams have won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles together.

Gauff has won three WTA doubles titles with Caty McNally, including last week at Parma, Italy, where Gauff also won the singles titles to push her ranking to a career-best No. 25. She is the youngest American woman to make her debut in the Top 25 since Serena accomplished the feat back in 1998.

Also in doubles, defending singles champion Iga Swiatek teamed with Bethanie Mattek-Sands to rout the French pair of Aubane Droguet and Selena Janicijevic 6-0, 6-1.


Representing a country where Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka generally take all of the tennis attention, Laaksonen is used to staying low profile.

Not anymore.

The 29-year-old Laaksonen has made a surprise run to the third round after producing what he called the best match of his life against Bautista Agut.

Laaksonen finished with 53 winners.

“So far they have been dropping inside the lines,” he said. “Let’s see what happens next.”

Laaksonen entered Roland Garros on a five-match losing streak and hadn’t posted a victory since October.

“I played last week in Geneva a little bit better, and here I had some tough matches in (qualifying),” Laaksonen said. “Today was just (an) amazing match for me. I was playing really aggressive and it paid off.”

Laaksonen moved from Finland to Switzerland – where his father is from – when he was 16.

Having grown up near Helsinki, he learned to play in challenging weather conditions.

“They opened the clay courts really early, sometimes like end of March, beginning of April already,” he said. “Sometimes we were playing when it was snowing a little bit, but we had always quite a long clay season actually.”

Elena Rybakina hits 10 aces in Miami for 12th straight win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina extended her winning streak to 12 matches by delivering 10 aces – her fourth consecutive outing with at least that many – in a 6-3, 6-0 victory over 25th-seeded Martina Trevisan in the Miami Open quarterfinals.

Rybakina has 46 aces through four matches at the hard-court tournament in Florida and a WTA-leading 201 this season.

The 23-year-old, who represents Kazakhstan, improved to 20-4 in 2023, including a run to the Australian Open final in January and a title at Indian Wells, California, last week.

She is trying to become only the fifth player to win the women’s trophies at Indian Wells and Miami in the same season. Top-ranked Iga Swiatek did it a year ago; she withdrew from Miami this time because of a rib injury.

“Of course it would be amazing to achieve something like that,” the 10th-seeded Rybakina said about the prospect of completing what’s known as the Sunshine Double, “but it’s still far away.”

So far in Rybakina’s career, 13 of her 18 semifinal appearances have come on hard courts. She will face No. 3 Jessica Pegula for a berth in the final after the American fought off two match points and outlasted No. 27 Anastasia Potapova 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2) in a match that ended just before 1:30 a.m. after play had been delayed by rain.

“I haven’t been that physically tired in just a really long time,” Pegula said. “Just the humidity was taking so much out of me, and I haven’t been able to play in humidity like that in a while. It was just really tough, so really, it was just pure will.”

Trevisan reached the French Open semifinals in 2022.

In fourth-round men’s action Tuesday, No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was beaten 7-6 (4), 6-4 by No. 14 Karen Khachanov, while defending champion Carlos Alcaraz, Taylor Fritz and Jannik Sinner all beat seeded opponents in straight sets.

Alcaraz, who returned to No. 1 in the ATP rankings last week, got past Australian Open semifinalist Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-4 to set up a meeting against Fritz, the top-ranked American man and seeded ninth in Miami.

Fritz compiled twice as many winners, 22, as unforced errors, 11, and only dropped serve once during a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 7 Holger Rune. That put Fritz into his first quarterfinal in seven appearances in Miami – and his first matchup against Alcaraz, a 19-year-old from Spain who won the U.S. Open in September for his first Grand Slam title.

“I’m really excited for it,” Fritz said. “I think that a lot of people are really excited for that, too.”

No. 10 Sinner eliminated No. 6 Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-4 and has yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Sinner’s next opponent will be unseeded Emil Ruusuvuori, a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 winner against No. 26 Botic van de Zandschulp.

No. 4 Daniil Medvedev, forced to start late and off his scheduled court after the rain, beat Quentin Halys 6-4, 6-2. He will face American Christopher Eubanks, who edged Adrian Mannarino in a pair of tiebreakers.

Khachanov will play Francisco Cerundolo, a semifinalist in Miami last year, in the other men’s quarterfinal.

Fritz, Sinner reach Miami Open quarterfinals with 2-set wins

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Taylor Fritz and Jannik Sinner beat seeded opponents in straight sets at the Miami Open to move into the quarterfinals.

No. 9 Fritz compiled twice as many winners, 22, as unforced errors, 11, and only dropped serve once during a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 7 Holger Rune.

That put Fritz, the highest-ranked American man, into his first quarterfinal in seven appearances at the hard-court tournament.

He will face either No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz or Australian Open semifinalist Tommy Paul next. Alcaraz is the defending champion in Miami.

No. 10 Sinner eliminated No. 6 Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-4 and has yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Sinner’s next opponent will be No. 26 Botic van de Zandschulp or unseeded Emil Ruusuvuori.