Kei Nishikori, you were missed. The Japanese star popped a tendon in his right wrist in mid-August, closed up shop for the year, and then sat out the Aussie Open last month. Since then he’s warmed up with some low-key Challengers, and this week entered just his second tour-level event since his injury, at Acapulco.
Quite a few things have changed in the tennis ecosystem while Kei was gone. For one, his first-round Acapulco opponent, Denis Shapovalov, was born: he beat Delpo, beat Rafa, beat Tsonga, made a fourth-round at a major, blah blah and so on. Now Shapo is squarely in the teen angst phase of his career. Yesterday, against Nishikori, he delivered a tantrum, to match.
This was his response after a second serve was called out:
This is how a felt a minute later when the umpire overruled a call and called a ball in:
He didn’t need to grovel much to win this one 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-1, as Nishikori wilted in the later sets, getting a brisk reminder that a) he’s not yet back to his typical top-10 form, and b) there are some bright new faces on tour to fear. As for Shapo, this is still far from his most dramatic encounter with an ump.