Tennis: Nishikori beats practice partner to reach third round at Australian Open

Kei Nishikori gestures during his men's singles match against Austin Krajicek on day three of the 2016 Australian Open.
Kei Nishikori gestures during his men's singles match against Austin Krajicek on day three of the 2016 Australian Open. PHOTO: AFP

MELBOURNE (AFP) - Japanese hope Kei Nishikori came out on top of an awkward match with his practice partner Austin Krajicek to reach the third round at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

The seventh seed advanced but not before a second-set struggle, winning 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 in 1hr 53min on Margaret Court Arena with the roof closed due to rain.

Nishikori, who has yet to pass the quarter-final stage at Melbourne Park, will player either Spain's 26th seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez or German qualifier Daniel Brands next.

Nishikori and American Krajicek grew up training together at the Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida and they were facing each other for the second time after the Japanese star won in three sets in Memphis last year.

"It was a great match against Austin. We have known each other for a long time so it wasn't easy to play him but he played well today," Nishikori said. "I should have closed out the second set when it was 5-4 but he started playing better and it was a tight tie-break. Once I got the tie-break I was better."

He breezed through the opening set in 25 minutes following a service break in the fourth game.

But Krajicek raised his level while Nishikori had a stutter in an hour-long second-set struggle.

The Japanese player was broken serving for the second set when he double-faulted and he was far from convincing in the tie-breaker, sealing it when the American's forehand was wide.

Nishikori stepped it up in the final set with an early break to ease to victory.