Fri, Oct 03, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Nishikori serves up another victory

AFP, TOKYO

Jeremy Chardy of France serves to Kevin Anderson of South Africa en route to winning their second-round match at the Japan Open in Tokyo yesterday, setting up a third-round clash with local favorite Kei Nishikori.

Photo: AFP

Kei Nishikori strengthened his bid to become the first Asian to qualify for an ATP year-end final as the fourth seed defeated the US’ Donald Young 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) yesterday at the Japan Open.

The US Open finalist will be playing a home quarter-final for the third straight year after winning the tournament in 2012.

“It was a really long match with a lot of long rallies,” Nishikori said. “He [Young] plays really aggressively and really came to the net. I returned well, especially in some tough moments in the second set.”

Nishikori stands sixth in the points race for next month’s eight-man World Tour Finals in London, with five places remaining open in the elite field.

The darling of Japanese tennis has been setting records all season and came to Tokyo after winning the Kuala Lumpur event last weekend.

The 24-year-old, who is based in Florida, has already become the first Japanese player to win a clay title (Barcelona in April), as well as being the first from his nation to crack the ATP top 10 and the first Japanese to play a Grand Slam singles final.

He needed only one break to get the better of Young, a one-time prodigy who has never lived up to expectations.

The Japanese took his victory in just less than 90 minutes, despite a brief hiatus in the first set for the roof of the Ariake Coliseum to be closed when it started to rain.

Nishikori resumed with his only break of Young for a 3-2 lead which held up throughout the set.

“It’s not easy to wait for 30 minutes off court. I had to stay focused and come back out concentrated. I was lucky to get the break immediately. I think I handled it well,” he said.

The second set was decided with a tiebreaker after Nishikori saved a set point in the 12th game.

The Japanese tennis hero fired a cross-court winner to earn two match points and converted on his first from a forehand winner.

Today, he is to face France’s Jeremy Chardy, who beat South African seventh seed Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-4.

Canadian third seed Milos Raonic, losing finalist at the last two editions, set up a quarter-final with Uzbek Denis Istomin.

Raonic, also in the fight for a London year-end place, beat Austrian veteran Jurgen Melzer 6-4, 6-3 while Istomin defeated Poland’s Michel Przysiezny 6-4, 7-6 (7/5).

The Raonic ace count in victory was only half of the 22 he managed in his opening win on Tuesday, but the Canadian was not concerned.

“I’m playing good tennis right now, I lifted my level form the first round, but I’m not thinking too far ahead [to a third straight final],” he added.

Raonic stands 2-0 over Istomin, with a pair of wins in San Jose.

“He can do a lot of things impressively,” the Canadian said of his opponent, “I have to keep getting better and better and create opportunities. I have to really contain him as much as I can.”

In the doubles, Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Brazil’s Marcelo Melo overcame Indian pair Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes 6-3, 6-2, while Spanish duo Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez advanced against Nishikori and fellow Japanese Yasutaka Uchiyama on a walkover.

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