Nishikori rolls; Sousa exits Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia ( - Top seed Kei Nishikori eased into the quarterfinals, while defending champion Joao Sousa came up a first- round loser Wednesday at the Malaysian Open tennis event.

The Japanese star and U.S. Open runner-up Nishikori drilled American Rajeev Ram 6-2, 6-3 in second-round action on the hardcourts at Putra Indoor Stadium.

Nishikori's quarterfinal opponent on Friday will be Aussie Marinko Matosevic.

Meanwhile, German Benjamin Becker stopped the sixth-seeded Portuguese Sousa 7-6 (7-1), 6-2. Sousa defeated two-time runner-up Julien Benneteau in last year's Kuala Lumpur finale and was a runner-up in Metz, France, last week.

In other second-round play on Wednesday, a fourth-seeded Benneteau got past Serbian wild card Filip Krajinovic 6-4, 6-3, fifth-seeded Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay overcame Croat Ivan Dodig 3-6, 7-5, 7-5, and Matosevic bested Japanese Go Soeda 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. Benneteau and Cuevas will lock horns in the quarters.

One other opening-round match saw Pole Michal Przysiezny come back to beat Tunisian Malek Jaziri 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

The 2014 Kuala Lumpur champ will claim $165,000.