Top seed Kei Nishikori recovered from a nervy start to beat American Donald Young 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 in his opening match at the Japan Open on Monday.
The Japanese world number five, who reached the semi-finals of last month’s US Open, looked horribly out of sorts against a player who only got the call to play in Tokyo after Spain’s Nicolas Almagro withdrew with illness, reports BSS.
“I wasn’t being aggressive enough in that first set and was missing a lot,” Nishikori told reporters.
“He was coming into the net a lot but he slowed down in the second set and I began to find my range.”
Nishikori, who won the Japan Open in 2012 and 2014, is favourite to win a third Tokyo title after US Open winner and defending champion Stan Wawrinka pulled out with a back injury.
Earlier Monday, fourth seed Marin Cilic also made hard work of his opener before seeing off Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-0, 4-6, 6-3.
In other matches, Portugal’s Joao Sousa beat Martin Klizan of Slovakia 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 while Spain’s Fernando Verdasco edged Japanese veteran Go Soeda 6-7, 6-3, 6-3.