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Nishikori beaten in return from 1-year break in Kitzbuehel

Tennis: US Open

Aug 30, 2019; Flushing, NY, USA; Kei Nishikori of Japan reacts after an error against Alex de Minaur of Australia in the third round on day five of the 2019 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

KITZBUEHEL, Austria -- Kei Nishikori was beaten in his return to professional tennis on Tuesday after a one-year break, losing to Miomir Kecmanovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the first round of the Generali Open.

Following surgery on his right elbow in October, the Japanese player had to postpone his comeback last month after he was forced to pull out of the Cincinnati Masters and U.S. Open after testing positive for COVID-19.

Nishikori’s previous match was a third-round loss to Alex de Minaur at the 2019 U.S. Open. He jumped out to a 5-0 lead over Kecmanovic and later led 6-4, 4-4, but won only two of the next 10 games.

The 47th-ranked Kecmanovic has been a long-term regular training partner of Nishikori’s.

“It means a lot to me to win this match,” the Serbian said. “I have been playing with him since I was 13, so this is very special.”

Also, fifth-seeded Hubert Hurkacz defeated Joao Sousa 6-3, 7-5; Guido Pella beat Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3, 6-0; and Austrian wild-card entry Sebastian Ofner rallied to beat Radu Albot 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (4).

Fabio Fognini is the top-seeded player at the clay-court event, which was rescheduled from July and is the first European tournament on the ATP Tour since February in Marseille.