NISHIOKA A STEP AWAY FROM SECOND STRAIGHT DELRAY BEACH MAIN DRAW

NISHIOKA A STEP AWAY FROM SECOND STRAIGHT DELRAY BEACH MAIN DRAW

NISHIOKA A STEP AWAY FROM SECOND STRAIGHT DELRAY BEACH MAIN DRAW

Japanese 20-Year-Old Reached the Quarterfinals Last Year

By STEVE DORSEY

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Delray Beach, Fla. – To say it was a long day for Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan would be an understatement, but he was determined not to lose twice in 24 hours.

Nishioka kept his hopes alive for a spot in the main draw of ATP World Tour’s Delray Beach Open with a hard-fought three-set victory Saturday night in the first round of qualifying play at the Delray Beach Tennis Center. Nishioka, ranked No. 130 in the world, can earn a berth in the 32-player main draw with a win Sunday on the final day of qualifying.

Nishioka, 20, understandably was a little exhausted following his 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 win against American teenager Tommy Paul, who was playing on a wild card. The diminutive Japanese left-hander lost to Sam Querrey in the quarterfinals at Memphis on Friday night, caught a connecting flight to West Palm Beach on Saturday morning and was on the court for his match against Paul four hours after landing.

Nishioka appeared poised to close out the 18-year-old Paul, ranked No. 251 in the world, in straight sets Saturday when he was leading 5-4 in the second set, but Paul fought off two match points to tie the game and then won the next two games to send the match to a decisive third set.

“I was a little tired,” Nishioka said of his inability to close out the match in the second set. “I really wanted to win it in two sets, but (Paul) was playing very aggressive on match points. The third set was tight, too.”

Nishioka can earn a berth in the Delray Beach Open main draw if he wins his next qualifying match Sunday against Radu Albot, who closed out the first day of qualifying Friday night with a three-set win of his own. It would be the second straight main draw for Nishioka, who was a surprise quarterfinalist last year.

All of the seeded players in the 16-player qualifying draw, including top seed Luca Vanni of Italy, won their matches Saturday. The main draw matches will begin Monday.

Andre Rublev, who was given a main draw wild card a year ago and reached the second round of the Delray ATP event, failed to qualify this year. He was sent home by Australian JP Smith, who rallied after losing the first set, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.

Qualifying Singles – First Round
Qualifying – [1] L. Vanni (ITA) d [Alt] A. Smirnov (UKR) 75 62
Qualifying – [2] T. Ito (JPN) d J. McGee (IRL) 63 67(5) 75
Qualifying – [3] R. Albot (MDA) d [Alt] E. Quigley (USA) 57 64 61
Qualifying – [4] A. Falla (COL) d S. Devvarman (IND) 57 62 61
Qualifying – [5] Y. Nishioka (JPN) d [WC] T. Paul (USA) 64 57 64
Qualifying – [6] B. Fratangelo (USA) d [WC] E. Tessaro (ITA) 62 63
Qualifying – [7] J. Smith (AUS) d A. Rublev (RUS) 46 63 60
Qualifying – [8] D. Novikov (USA) d J. Donaldson (USA) 63 67(4) 63

ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2016
COURT 1 start 11:00 am
Qualifying – [2] T. Ito (JPN) vs [6] B. Fratangelo (USA)

Not Before 12:30 pm
Qualifying – [1] L. Vanni (ITA) vs [8] D. Novikov (USA)

COURT 4 start 11:00 am
Qualifying – [4] A. Falla (COL) vs [7] J. Smith (AUS)

Not Before 1:00 pm
Qualifying – [3] R. Albot (MDA) vs [5] Y. Nishioka (JPN)

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