Nishikori fairytale continues in Sweden
9 hours ago
STOCKHOLM (AFP) — Japanese teenager Kei Nishikori opened another chapter in his fairytale 2008 when he reached the Stockholm Open quarter-finals on Thursday by downing Slovakian veteran Dominik Hrbaty 6-1, 1-6, 7-5.
The 18-year-old, who will tackle Croatian second seed Mario Ancic for a place in the last four, is fast becoming a sporting hero back home which is desperate for a tennis revival a decade and a half after Shuzo Matsuoka reached the Top 50.
Nishikori, ranked 77 in the world, will face Ancic for the first time with the Croatian having beaten the only two Japanese players he has faced on the ATP - Go Soeda last year at the Australian Open and Tasuku Iwamiin Tokyo five years ago.
Nishikori has made a leap up the rankings of 212 places since his surprise title in February when he defeated number 12 James Blake at Delray Beach in Florida.
He is the first Japanese to win an ATP crown since Matsuoka won the 1992 South Korea crown.
In his last two tournaments, Nishikori reached the US Open fourth round and went down in the third round at home last week in Tokyo.
"This is the first time I'm winning so constantly and it surprises me. Of course I haven't faced anyone from the top 10, but it gives me confidence. Now I want to advance to the semis," said Nishikori who was proud of his determined performance on Thursday.
"I just concentrated on holding my serve in the third set," he said.
"I'm glad I did not go down after failing to break his serve in the ninth game."
Wild-card Nishikori and Ancic advance to quarter-finals in Stockholm
STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Wild-card Kei Nishikori advanced to the quarter-finals of the Stockholm Open on Thursday, beating Dominik Hrbaty 6-1, 1-6, 7-5.
Nishikori will face No. 2 Mario Ancic, a 7-6 (4), 6-4 winner over Steve Darcis. Top-seeded David Nalbandian, No. 3 Jarkko Nieminen and No. 4 Robin Soderling also reached the last eight.
Nishikori, who has jumped 212 spots to 77th in the rankings since the beginning of the year, was bothered by a sore knee in his opening match against eighth-seeded Marcel Granollers on Monday.
"It was better than the first match, he said. "I feel it is 80 per cent healed. I didn't feel much pain during the match."
The 18-year-old Nishikori had three break points to 5-4 in the third set when Hrbaty fell behind 0-40, but the Slovakian saved them all.
In the next game, Hrbaty was only two points from the match at 30 all, but the Japanese teenager eventually held his serve.
"I just concentrated on keeping my serve," he said. "I'm glad that I did not go down after failing to break his serve from 0-40. The next game was difficult."
Nishikori broke to 6-5 with a forehand winner and then held to love to wrap up the match.
"This is the first time I'm winning so constantly and it surprises me," Nishikori said. "Of course I haven't faced anyone from top 10, but it gives me confidence. Now I wish to advance to the semi."
Nice to know Kei's knee is better!
Good luck against Mario!