Seven of the top 10 tennis players played their first-round matches Sunday in Tokyo, but only four survived.
World No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas was on a roll in his opening match at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday, but managed to bounce back and beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
Kohlschreiber, a former Top 20 player, led 2-0 in the third set before Tsitsipas returned to form, winning six of the last seven games of the match to end it and become the first Greek to win an Olympic singles tennis match against Augustos Zerlandis in 1924.
“It’s a great honor,” Tsitsipas told ITFTennis.com after the match. “It’s a big step for Greece — it’s a big step for the sport in Greece, and there’s joy in that.”
The next match for Tsitsipas will be a rematch with Francis Tiafoe, who stunned him in the first round at Wimbledon four weeks ago. In their 1-1 confrontation.
“I learned my lessons,” Tsitsipas said. “I’m going to try to move on better this time. He’s an opponent about my age group, and he and I are kind of competitive.”
“I’m going to have to raise my level this time.”
A total of seven members of the Top 10 competed in the men’s event on Sunday. In addition to Tsitsipas, the No. 3 seed, Alexander Zverev, the No. 4 seed, Hubert Hurkacz, the No. 7 seed, and Diego Schwartzman, the No. 8 seed, advanced to the second round.
But three others suffered, most of all fifth seed Andrey Rublev, who lost 6-3, 6-4 to Kei Nishikori in one of the toughest first round men’s draws.
Nishikori’s win over Rublev was his 40th career Top 10 victory, but his first since 2018.
Nishikori may be ranked 69th right now, but he’s a former No. 4, a Grand Slam finalist (2014 US Open), an Olympic medalist (he won bronze in Rio de Janeiro in 2016), and he won the pair’s only previous meeting in Cincinnati in 2018 in straight sets.
“I haven’t played like this in a long time,” he said. “The last couple of months, maybe this whole year, it’s been hard for me to play top-10 players. This is the first time I’ve played a very solid match, so I’m certainly happy with the win over Rublev, but I’m also happy with my tennis.”
With his win over Rublev, ranked No. 7, Nishikori effectively broke a 12-match losing streak against top-10 players – he had not beaten a top-10 player since beating Roger Federer at the ATP Finals round robin stage in November 2018.
In two other bouts, Ilya Ivashka defeated No. 10 seed Gael Monfils, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, and Australian Max Purcell defeated No. 9 seed Felix Auger-Aliassim, 6-4, 7-6 (2).