Andy Murray set to play first match in San Diego tournament

Sports

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Former world No. 1-ranked player Andy Murray of Great Britain is set to face Kei Nishikori of Japan to begin Tuesday evening’s night session of the $661,800 San Diego Open men’s tennis tournament.

Murray was the world’s top-ranked men’s player from Nov. 7, 2016, to Aug. 20, 2017, and the 2013 and 2016 Wimbledon and 2012 U.S. Open men’s singles champion.

The 34-year-old Murray has dropped to 109th in the Association of Tennis Professionals rankings, winning just one tournament since 2018, when he underwent the first of two hip surgeries.

Murray has an 8-8 record in singles play in 2021, including winning two matches at Wimbledon.

Nishikori climbed to fourth in the rankings in 2015, the highest by a male player from Asia. He reached the final of the U.S. Open in 2014, losing to Marin Cilic of Croatia.

Nishikori has been plagued by wrist injuries since 2017 and has dropped to 52nd in the rankings. He has won two tournaments since 2016. The 31- year-old is 25-16 in singles play in 2021, reaching the third round of the U.S. Open and quarterfinals of the Olympics, losing both times to Novak Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked player.

Murray and Nishikori both received wild cards to be part of the 28- player main singles draw.

The first-round match will be the 12th time Murray has faced Nishikori and first since the 2017 French Open. Murray leads the series, 9-2, including winning six of the past seven matches.

The evening session is set to begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Barnes Tennis Center. First-round singles winners are guaranteed at least $10,595 while the losers receive $6,195.

Native San Diegan Brandon Nakashima and Taylor Fritz, who was raised in Rancho Santa Fe, were among the winners Monday as main draw play began.

Nakashima overcame a first-set loss for a 6-7 (5), 6-1, 7-5 upset of Fabio Fognini of Italy while Fritz defeated Italian qualifier Salvatore Caruso, 6-4, 7-6 (2) in the night’s final match.

Neither Nakashima nor Fognini had his serve broken in the 56-minute first set. After losing the tiebreaker, the 20-year-old Nakashima broke Fognini’s serve in the first game of the second set and again in the fifth and seventh games.

Fognini broke Nakashima in the first game of the third set. Nakashima broke Fognini’s serve three games later and closed out the match by breaking Fognini’s serve in the 12th game.

“It was definitely very exciting out there, walking onto court in the beginning, having that home crowd with me,” Nakashima said.

“I was a little bit nervous at the beginning but tried to stay focused out there, tried to find my game. It was a tough first set but I was happy I regrouped at the end.”

Nakashima won 80% of first serve points, including eight aces, and 63% on second serves. Fognini committed 11 double faults.

Nakashima is 83rd on the Association of Tennis Professionals rankings. The 34-year-old Fognini is ranked 31st.

Nakashima is a graduate of High Bluff Academy in Rancho Santa Fe. He played one year at the University of Virginia and was selected as the Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year before turning professional.

Nakashima will next face Russian Andrey Rublev, the top seed in the 28- player singles draw. The top four seeded players received first-round byes.

Fritz never had his serve broken in the one-hour, 44-minute match, his first since a 6-7 (7), 7-6 (10), 7-5, 6-2 loss to fellow American Jenson Brooksby in a second-round match of the U.S. Open Sept. 2.

“I was hitting my spots really well,” Fritz said. “I have days where my service percentage is pretty good but I don’t necessarily hit my spots and my serve’s coming back, but I hit my spots really well today and backed it up really well when the serves came back.”

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