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LONDON, July 3 (Reuters) - Japan's Kei Nishikori breezed through his Wimbledon first-round clash with Italy's Marco Cecchinato 6-2 6-2 6-0 on Monday, demolishing an opponent who was playing his first senior-level match on grass.
The ninth seed did not disappoint the legion of Japanese fans who gave him a hero's welcome as he walked on to Court Twelve, outclassing his rival from the first point when he powered a backhand winner down the line.
Cecchinato, ranked 102nd, could not handle Nishikori's thundering drives off both wings, with the 24-year-old Italian's one-handed backhand proving particularly fragile.
Nishikori, 27, showed off his full repertoire of shots in a faultless third set which he peppered with delicate drop shots and ended with an emphatic volley.
Japan's highest-ever ranked player did not show any sign of the injuries that have plagued him on grass courts in recent years. His toughest challenge of the day was making his way off the court as he was mobbed by dozens of fans seeking autographs.
Reporting by Pravin Char, editing by Ed Osmond