BASEL (AFP) – Asia s best player Kei Nishikori played with zen-like calm to begin the Swiss Indoors on Monday with a 7-5, 6-1 defeat of Serbia s Dusan Lajovic in Basel.
Nishikori, losing finalist to Roger Federer in 2011, played a controlled power game to earn a place in the second round, breaking open the second set after a tight first against the world number 77.
“I try to stay calm on court, I don t want to go up and down mentally. I m glad to be back (in Basel), I missed the last two years with injuries,” said the Japanese world number five.
“It was a tough first set, we both played well,” he added. “In the second his level dropped a bit and mine got better.”
The event is missing seven-time champion Federer and Rafael Nadal, both of whom have ended their seasons early because of injuries.
Nishikori takes the third seeding behind Switzerland s three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka, the top seed, and Canadian Milos Raonic.
The Japanese, 26, is one of five players already qualified for November s World Tour Finals in London. Battles for the last three spots are taking place at ATP events this week and next.
Also in the first round, Federico Delbonis of Argentina beat the Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 6-4, 6-4.
Dangerous outsider Juan Martin del Potro, weekend winner of the Stockholm title and twice a Basel trophy-holder (2012 and 2013), is playing as a wildcard after wrist problems stretching back more than a year.