The former World No. 4 hit 30 winners and broke Popyrin three times for victory in just under two hours. He reached the quarter-finals at the All England Club in 2019 to equal his best result at Wimbledon, and will next face Jordan Thompson or 12th seeded-Norwegian Casper Ruud.
“I started really well. I think it the first set I was a little bit shaky, but in the second and third sets, I played really good solid points,” Nishikori said. “I served well and I think the return was key. I broke one game in each set, so I am really happy with how I played today.”
Federer Survives Centre Court Scare
Nishikori has had runs to the quarter-finals at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (l. Borna Coric) and the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (l. Lloyd Harris) this year. He is 15-12 on the season. Popyrini won his maiden ATP Tour title at the Singapore Tennis Open (d. Bublik) in February. The World No. 67 is now 16-13 on the season.
The Frenchman hit 13 aces and won 75 per cent (38/51) of his first-service points to advance to the second round in two hours and 27 minutes. The 34-year-old is now 16-15 on the season and next faces Ilya Ivashka.
“To be back at Wimbledon is very special,” Chardy said. “I love to play on grass. I was lucky to spend one week at home before the tournament, so I was really happy to enjoy that with the family. I am really happy with my match today, I think I played a really solid match from the beginning to the end.”
Chardy, No. 61 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, enjoyed a run to the semi-finals at the Antalya Open (l. to Bublik) in January. He produced a strong display to defeat 20th seeded-Russian Karatsev, who was making his Wimbledon debut. In a tight opening set, Karatsev saved the only break point in the 12th game to force a tie-break, which Chardy sealed when Karatsev netted a backhand.
History repeated itself in the second set with Chardy clinching another tie-break, after both fended off break points. He then fired 10 winners in the third set to advance.
Karatsev has enjoyed a best-ever season, recording 23 tour-levels wins. The 27-year-old claimed the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title in March (d. Harris) after a run to the semi-finals at the Australian Open in February (l. to Djokovic). The Russian lost in qualifying at SW19 in 2014 and 2015.