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Nishikori won his first clay-court title in Barcelona last month. He then reached the final in Madrid but had to retire with a back injury against Nadal.
Nishikori, the highest-ranked Japanese man in history, is No. 10 in the world, one spot lower than his career high.
No. 17 Tommy Robredo of Spain, No. 25 Marin Cilic of Croatia, No. 26 Feliciano Lopez of Spain, No. 27 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain and No. 29 Gilles Simon of France advanced, while No. 30 Vasek Pospisil of Canada lost.
Later Monday, Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka was playing Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain on center court.
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