Nishikori braced for injury-plagued career
Japan's Kei Nishikori reacts after losing a point against Slovakia's Martin Klizan during their French tennis Open first round match at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris on May 26, 2014 - by Patrick Kovarik
The ninth-seed crashed out of the first round, going down 7-6 (7/4), 6-1, 6-2 to Slovakia's world number 59 Martin Klizan, just 12 months after becoming the first Japanese man in 75 years to make the fourth round in Paris.
The 24-year-old was clearly still hampered by the back injury which forced him to quit the Madrid Masters final against Rafael Nadal with the cold, damp conditions on Court One further conspiring against him.
"It sucks," said Nishikori, who is coached by 1989 French Open champion Michael Chang.
"But this is my tennis life now. Injuries will come again for sure so I have to take care of my body. I will have to be ready and do all that I can to stay healthy."
Nishikori had been in impressive form on European clay this year, winning the Barcelona title before reaching the final in Madrid where he took the first set against Nadal.
But the back injury then forced him to skip the Rome Masters and he came to Paris hopelessly under-prepared.
"This was the first time I was playing points since Madrid. I didn't hit a serve 100 percent before today so there was no rhythm," explained Nishikori who is no stranger to injury.
Back in August 2009 he underwent surgery on his right elbow and didn't play again until April 2010.
"I was just happy to finish the match. The performance wasn't perfect but I did not have much practice. I have been playing well on clay this year so it's sad to lose here. At least I didn't get another injury."
Nishikori looked distinctly half-fit on Monday. He was broken 10 times, hit 10 double faults and committed 40 unforced errors
Left-handed Klizan, one of six former junior champions in the main draw this year, was 2-0 ahead in the first set before Nishikori briefly rallied for a 5-3 lead.
However, the Slovak reeled off 10 of the next 12 games on his way to a two sets to love lead.
The 24-year-old Klizan then broke in the first and fifth games of the third set as he moved smoothly towards victory.
Klizan goes on to face Robin Haase of the Netherlands for a place in the last 32.
Haase put out 2007 semi-finalist Nikolay Davydenko of Russia 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 in his first round match.
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