Nishikori defeats top seed to reach semis in Memphis

AFP, MEMPHIS, Tennessee

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 - Page 19

Fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan cruised past top-seeded Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-2 on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the US National Indoor Tennis Championships.

Croatia’s Cilic had saved three match points in his previous match against Igor Sijsling, but could not find the answer against Nishikori, who had just four aces compared to a dozen for Cilic, but who won 69 percent of points on his serve.

“I was dominating with my serve,” said the 23-year-old Nishikori, who also reached the semi-finals in Brisbane last month, but retired from that match against Andy Murray with a knee injury.

Since then, he has reached the fourth round of the Australian Open.

“It’s getting better every match ... little by little,” Nishikori said of his game.

He next faces Australian Marinko Matosevic, a 6-7 (6/8), 6-2, 6-4 winner over seventh-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine.

Nishikori won their only prior meeting at Brisbane earlier this year.

The other men’s semi-final in this combined ATP and WTA event will pit Spain’s Feliciano Lopez against Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin.

Lopez defeated US wild-card Jack Sock 6-4, 6-3, and Istomin was a 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) winner over Michael Russell of the US.

In women’s action, big-hitting Sabine Lisicki of Germany set up a title showdown with Marina Erakovic.

Lisicki, the third seed, fell behind in each set, but dug deep for a 7-5, 7-5 semi-final win over seventh-seeded Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia. She will be vying for a fourth career WTA title.

Croatian-born New Zealander Erakovic defeated Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland 6-2, 6-4 to earn a shot at a first WTA title. The 24-year-old has two runner-up finishes on her resume, including in Memphis last year.

Additional reporting by staff writer