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Japan's Kei Nishikori beat an out-of-sorts Stan Wawrinka in straight sets to take an early lead in his group at the ATP World Tour Finals.

Nishikori, seeded fifth, won 6-2 6-3 in the opening match of the John McEnroe Group at London's O2 Arena. Swiss third seed Wawrinka made 31 unforced errors over the course of 67 minutes. Andy Murray makes his debut as world number one when he takes on Marin Cilic in the evening session at 20:00 GMT.

While Murray and Novak Djokovic battle for the year-end number one spot, Nishikori took a significant step towards replacing Wawrinka as the world number three with a surprisingly easy win.

"That's my goal for this week," said Nishikori, 26. "Try to win a lot of matches and reach number four or number three. I see the opportunity to go up the ranking."

Wawrinka, 31, was playing with strapping on his left knee and struggled to make any impression on the return, despite Nishikori making just 47% of first serves. The Swiss, who beat Nishikori on the way to winning the US Open in September, leaked backhand errors in the first set and forehands in the second.

Two breaks of serve allowed Nishikori to take the opener with a sharp volley after 29 minutes, and a lunging forehand return in game five provided the decisive break in the second. Asked if he had been struggling physically, Wawrinka said: "I was feeling better on the court, so I thought I could play at a better level today.

"I was expecting a good match. Didn't happen today." Nishikori will play the winner of Murray's match against Cilic on Wednesday.

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