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Beyond the Baseline

Kei Nishikori suffers first big upset of French Open, losing to Martin Klizan

Kei Nishikori Kei Nishikori struggled to find his rhythm during his 7-6 (4), 6-1, 6-2 loss against Martin Klizan. (David Vincent/AP)

PARIS -- Ninth-seeded Kei Nishikori was the first big name to tumble out of the French Open, losing 7-6 (4), 6-1, 6-2 to No. 59 Martin Klizan in the first round on Monday.

Nishikori admitted before the tournament that he was not 100 percent physically after suffering a hip injury in the Madrid Open final two weeks ago. After receiving treatment in Florida, Nishikori tried his best to compete at Roland Garros, but his movement was clearly hampered on a wet day with heavy conditions that favored his big-hitting opponent.

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"I'm actually happy to finish the match," Nishikori said. "I was really disappointed that my performance was ‑‑ I mean, not very bad, but it wasn't a perfect match for me. And I didn't have much practice. So I knew this is going to be happen."

It's a disappointing result for Nishikori, who surged to the title at the Barcelona Open last month -- his first clay-court title. The victory boosted him into the top 10, making him the first Japanese man to crack the ATP's upper echelon.

A few weeks later, he followed that up with another fantastic run at the Madrid Open. He defeated David Ferrer in the semifinals to set up a final against Rafael Nadal, and led the Spaniard a set and a break before retiring with the hip injury.

His lack of rhythm showed against Klizan. Nishikori's serve can be a liability even when he's healthy, and by the end of the second set, he was barely putting his legs into any attempts.

Nishikori has been snake-bitten by injury throughout his career -- he also withdrew before his semifinal at the Sony Open with a groin injury -- and now begins the race to get fit for Wimbledon, which begins on June 23.

"It really sucks, I have to say, a lot of injuries, and especially in Madrid I was winning first set, and I have to kind of let go the match" he said. "So it's tough for me, but I guess this is my tennis life. I have to take care of my body and injury will come again, for sure."

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