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Matosevic falls to Nishikori in Brisbane
By Jim Morton
23:43 AEST Mon Dec 31 2012

Australia's top-ranked men's tennis player, Marinko Matosevic, has failed to carry his 2012 improvement into the new season - falling to Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori at the Brisbane International.

Voted the year's biggest improver on the ATP Tour by his peers, the No.49-ranked Matosevic wilted 7-5 6-2 in the first round to continue his Brisbane drought over three years.

The Bosnian-born Victorian rued a major missed chance in the first set, immediately giving up a break at 3-1 and then getting the wobbles on his strong serve in the 11th game.

World No.19 Nishikori carried his momentum into the second set, breaking immediately and feeding off Matosevic's errors to close out the match in an hour and 42 minutes.

Davis Cup coach Pat Rafter called on Matosevic to remain upbeat afterwards, especially as the 27-year-old showed good power and control in the baseline rallies but was undone by mere millimetres in two key first-set points.

"I was unlucky to lose the first set I thought and then the second was closer than what the score reflected," Matosevic told AAP. "(Coach) Josh (Eagle) and Rafter thought it was a good match and closer than the score reflected.

"It's disappointing but he's a quality player."

There was some joy for local fans at the Queensland Tennis Centre on Monday as Brisbane baseliner John Millman earned a main draw berth with his third straight qualifying win.

With his family cheering from the grass hill outside court 10, the world No.199 outgunned American hopeful Donald Young 6-4 6-2.

A mad Liverpool supporter, Millman had a good feeling after the Reds thrashed QPR 3-0.

"That win inspired me," said the 23-year-old, who is now eyeing a major opportunity against Japanese world No.66 Tatsuma Ito.

"I've got to be proud of my efforts. But the way I'm playing, I really can't be satisfied with just making tournament."

Nishikori was the third man into the second round alongside German sixth seed Florian Mayer and veteran Finn Jarkko Nieminen.

Mayer swept aside Colombian Santiago Giraldo 6-4 6-4 while Niemenen scored a 6-3 2-6 6-1 win over Frenchman Julien Benneteau.

Gold Coast wildcard Ben Mitchell became the fifth Australian - including women Samantha Stosur, Olivia Rogowska and Bojana Bobusic - to lose their first-round match on Monday when he was eliminated by Marcos Baghdatis.

Mitchell fought hard but went down 6-4 6-4 to the 2006 Australian Open runner-up.