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Nishikori, Tsonga up for Aust Open battle

  • Nishikori, Tsonga up for Aust Open battle

Kei Nishikori and David Goffin are the first men into the last 16 of the Australian Open.

The Japanese No.1 triumphed over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and a wrist injury on Friday afternoon to enter the fourth round.

His 7-5 2-6 6-3 6-4 win in two hours and 48 minutes was not without drama.

After edging a tight first set, Nishikori needed a medical time-out to treat his wrist.

Sporting a bandage underneath his bright orange wristband when he returned for a second set, the popular figure's play diminished.

The 26th-seeded Spaniard was able to overpower Nishikori to claim the set, letting out a big 'si' as he levelled the match.

Nishikori was rattled by the Garcia-Lopez's power game, giving a thumbs up to his opponent as he unleashed a huge backhand winner early in the third set.

But he wasn't to be outdone.

Upping his consistency, Nishikori re-applied himself to the contest to claim the final two sets.

He said his wrist responded to treatment, and he didn't feel the ailment after the first set.

"It was tough mentally," he said.

"He was serving really well and I couldn't return well.

"I started to concentrate again ... lucky I didn't go five sets, for my body it's great."

Nishikori will play a French opponent in the fourth round; either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Goffin claimed a 6-1 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 win over precociously talented world No.20 Dominic Thiem in two hours and 58 minutes.

The Belgian ace was top of his Austrian opponent early, racing through the opening set.

Thiem then claimed the ascendancy, racing to a 3-0 lead in the second set.

A key moment then arrived, with Goffin claiming a marathon game after eight deuces.

Thiem fumed but didn't lose his sportsmanship, conceding a point he was entitled to replay after Goffin correctly challenged a call.

The Austrian was off the boil and dumped three games in quick time but regathered his composure to level the set-count.

Thiem missed his mark in a third-set tiebreak and had to save a match point a 3-5 in the fourth set.

He broke back to raise hopes of a deciding set but was defeated shortly after.

Goffin said he was delighted to triumph.

"It was almost three hours of high intensity match," he said.

"I'm really happy with the way I managed the match emotionally because it's always hard to play against a friend."

Roger Federer or Grigor Dimitrov awaits the world No.16 in the next round.

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