Kei Nishikori's has reached the quarter-finals of the Indian Wells Masters twice, in 2016 and 2017 ©Getty Images

Kei Nishikori was in danger of suffering a first-round defeat at the Indian Wells Masters, but the former world number four rallied from a set down to beat João Sousa 6-7, 6-3, 6-2 in California.

Nishikori struggled to contain his Portuguese opponent as he lost the first set and then immediately fell behind a break in the second.

However, the Japanese regained his composure to win his opening match at the Indian Wells Masters for the seventh time.

The 31-year-old is in a difficult part of the draw and will play 18th-seeded Briton Dan Evans next.

In their last meeting, at the 2020 French Open, Nishikori won a five-set duel which lasted nearly four hours.

American qualifier Maxime Cressy clawed past Serbian Laslo Djere 6-7, 6-1, 7-5 in front of the home crowd.

Cressy will face a huge challenge in the second round as he goes up against 11th seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.

Alison Riske is set to face defending champion Bianca Andreescu in the next round ©Getty Images
Alison Riske is set to face defending champion Bianca Andreescu in the next round ©Getty Images

In the women's draw, a trio of Americans ruled the day.

Alison Riske set up a tie with defending champion Bianca Andreescu of Canada following her 6-2, 6-2 victory over Taiwanese qualifier Liang En-Shuo.

Amanda Anisimova and Lauren Davis also booked their spots into the second round with dominant straight-set wins.

Anisimova needed just 54 minutes to defeat compatriot Katrina Scott 6-1, 6-1.

The 2019 French Open semi-finalist won 90 per cent of her first-serve points and did not face a break point against the 17-year-old wildcard.

Anisimova will face Italy's Camila Giorgi, who won the Canada Masters in August, in the second round.

Davis came through her opener against Spain's Nuria Parrizas, winning 6-2, 7-5.

The win earns Davis a tie with 22nd seed and San Jose champion Danielle Collins of the United States next.

There was disappointment for 38-year-old Kim Clijsters, however.

The Belgian - a four-time Grand Slam winner on the comeback trail - fell 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 against Czech Kateřina Siniaková.