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Back-To-Back Five Setters, No Problem For Kei!

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If you’re locked in a fifth set, Kei Nishikori is your man! The Japanese star once again proved to be an ironman on Wednesday when he fought back to beat Russian 23rd seed Karen Khachanov 4-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in four hours for a place in the Roland Garros third round.

Three days on from another five-set comeback over Italian Alessandro Giannessi, the former World No. 4 refused to give in and improved to 26-7 in matches that go to five sets.

"After the third set lost, I keep telling myself I wanted to keep playing. There was no answer for me, but I just kept playing," Nishikori said. "My body said no, but my mind was just [telling me to] keep playing. I was able to win the fourth set without thinking anything. Of course, [in the] fifth set you want to fight until the end."

The 31-year-old left it late, breaking Khachanov to love with his 57th winner in the final game. He has now won 10 of his past 11 five-set matches and has the best record among current players, according to Infosys ATP Stats.

Best Five-Set Records (Active Players)

Player Five-Set Record Winning%
1) Kei Nishikori 26-7 78.7%
2) Tommy Robredo 17-5 77.3%
3) Novak Djokovic 33-10 76.7%
4) David Goffin 13-5 72.2%
5) Feliciano Lopez 25-11 69.4%

"Everybody [is] telling me I have good records, [so] sometimes I have to think that I have to keep building my record after going five sets," Nishikori said. "That's giving me pleasure a little bit, too. I think [in] fifth sets I'm really playing good tennis, more than any set. Even though I'm tired, I think I'm playing better and more free, more aggressive, not being passive. I think I do many good things, especially in the last set."

Nishikori, a three-time Roland Garros quarter-finalist, will now play Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen, who caused a big upset mid-afternoon.

The World No. 150 ended a five-match tour-level losing streak in beating Yannick Hanfmann in the first round, once again held his nerve to overcome Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, the 11th seed, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in two hours and 21 minutes.


The 29-year-old Laaksonen saved three match points in the final round of qualifying against Juan Manuel Cerundolo. Laaksonen struck 53 winners, including nine aces, in the first Top 20 win of his career. Bautista Agut had never before lost to a player at a Grand Slam outside the Top 110 in the FedEx ATP Rankings (l. to No. 108 Ricardo Mello in the 2012 Australian Open first round).
 
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