Sun, Jul 22, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Soeda surprises Nishikori in all-Japan quarter-final

AFP, ATLANTA, Georgia

Go Soeda routed third-seeded compatriot Kei Nishikori 6-2, 6-1 at the ATP Tour’s Atlanta Open on Friday in the first meeting between the two Japanese stars.

Eighth-seeded Soeda saved all seven break points he faced on serve and went four-for-four on break point chances on his return in the 72-minute quarter-final contest.

“I think he was more nervous, but I was nervous, too,” Soeda said. “His ranking is high, and I had nothing to lose.”

The match had historic significance as it was the first contest between two Japanese players in an ATP World Tour quarter-final, the organizers said.

This was also the first time the pair have squared off against each other as professionals. Soeda, of Kanagawa, turned pro in 2003 and the younger Nishikori followed four years later.

World No. 19 Nishikori, of Shimane, will now head to the London Games and Soeda will join him as soon as the Atlanta hardcourt tournament is over. They are expected to play in singles and then doubles together at the Olympics.

“He played unbelievably well,” Nishikori told the Atlanta -Journal-Constitution newspaper. “He didn’t miss and he was really aggressive. I couldn’t put in a ball. I lost my confidence.”

This is the first ATP Tour semi-final for Soeda since the opening week of the season, when he made it to the Chennai Open semis and lost there to Janko Tipsarevic. He is currently ranked 54th in the world.

Soeda next plays Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller, who beat Australian Matthew Ebden 6-4, 6-4 on Friday.

The 29-year-old Muller won 32 of his first 35 first-serve points and did not face a break point.

Muller is a two-time ATP Tour runner-up and is chasing his first title. He is in a final for the first time in seven years.

In other quarter-final matches, fourth seed Andy Roddick defeated Michael Russell 6-3, 6-4.

The 27th-ranked Roddick hammered 12 aces and won 82 percent of his service points.

He improved to 3-0 against Russell and converted two of four break points in the match.

Roddick will next play top seed John Isner who beat wild card Jack Sock in straight sets 7-6 (9/7), 6-4.

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