New Delhi, April 13: Kei Nishikori thrashed a feeble challenge from Mahesh Bhupathi in the first reverse singles to help Japan open their account against India in the Asia-Oceania Group I Davis Cup tie on Sunday.
Nishikori, 18, took just 59 minutes to dump Bhupathi 7-5, 6-1 in a lopsided affair. India have already clinched the tie and qualified for the World Group playoff Saturday after winning the first three matches. Bhupathi last featured in a singles match in 2001 and that too in a Davis Cup encounter against Takao Suzuki of Japan. In the opening set that lasted 35 minutes, Nishikori was the first to get the break after Bhupathi buried a simple backhand return into nets in the seventh game.
The Indian tried to draw Nishikori to the net but the Japanese made sure that the match was played to his strength, on the baseline. The uneven bounce of the court did trouble Nishikori when he lost his serve in the 10th game but he was able to break back in the very next game after Bhupathi double-faulted with the Japanese leading 40-15.