Tennis

Nishikori slumps to shock first-round loss

Top seed Kei Nishikori crashed out of the Rio de Janeiro Open yesterday morning (Singapore time) after suffering a 6-4 6-3 first-round loss to Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci.

The Japanese world No. 5, who was stunned by unseeded Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov in the Argentina Open final two days ago, lost his cool when he realised it wasn't going to be his day, angrily smashing his racquet into the clay surface.

The 27-year-old later admitted that this could be his "worst match in the last few years".

For 76th-ranked Bellucci, beating his highly fancied opponent on home ground was one of his career's best moments.

He said: "For me, it was an amazing night. I think Kei felt like he wasn't playing his best tennis but I was playing tactically right, so for me it was very special to have this victory in my own country, with my own people, family, friends.

"For sure, it's one of the biggest victories in my career.

"When I saw the draw, I knew that even if Kei didn't play so well, he's still an unbelievable player, still the top seed, so for me, I knew that I had to play my best tennis to beat him."

Bellucci, 29, meets compatriot Thiago Monteiro, who beat Portugal's Gastao Eliasa 2-6 7-6(4) 6-4, in the next round.

- WIRE SERVICES