© Hiroshi Sato

Qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama beats fourth seed and former finalist Benoit Paire on Tuesday in Tokyo.

Uchiyama's Upset: Qualifier Ousts Paire In Tokyo

Japanese hope beats 2015 finalist in first round

Entering the year, Yasutaka Uchiyama had beaten just one Top 50 opponent in his career. But after upsetting Benoit Paire on Tuesday, the Japanese player owns two Top 25 victories.

Uchiyama, a qualifier, ousted the fourth seed 6-2, 6-2 to reach the second round of the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, joining countryman Go Soeda in the second round. Uchiyama’s only previous main draw victory in Tokyo came against Croat Franko Skugor two years ago.

“Of course I’m happy after winning the first round,” Uchiyama said. “But at the same time, I don’t want to feel happy too much. I want to focus on the next round. I’m happy for now, and then I want to focus on tomorrow.”

The World No. 136, who is at his career-high ATP Ranking, needed just 54 minutes to advance after also winning in straight sets in both of his qualifying matches. Uchiyama lost only two first-serve points (22/24) in the match, breaking 2015 Tokyo finalist Paire’s serve on four of the six opportunities he earned.

“I played very good service games again today. I didn’t drop my serve and that was the key,” Uchiyama said. “I had just a few chances to break him. I think he felt a little bit frustrated with the return games, and that was a key.”

Uchiyama carried momentum into his home tournament after winning his first ATP Challenger Tour title of the year earlier this month in Shanghai. In January, the Japanese made his first ATP Tour quarter-final in Brisbane, where he upset Brit Kyle Edmund.

Uchiyama will look to continue his Tokyo run against Moldovan Radu Albot or Serbian Filip Krajinovic.

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