MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE – Kei Nishikori remained on course for his fourth consecutive Memphis Open title with a straight-sets win over Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Nishikori prevailed 6-2, 6-4 but compatriot Yoshihito Nishioka had his hopes of reaching the last four for the first time on the ATP Tour dashed with a 6-3, 6-4 defeat to American fourth seed Sam Querrey.
Nishikori will meet Querrey in the semis on Saturday, with Querrey looking to avenge last year’s 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5) semifinal loss.
Nishikori leads their head-to-head rivalry 4-3, and has won the pair’s past three meetings.
Nishikori made a number of errant shots in a defensive first set but broke Kukushkin in the third and seventh games to take control.
Kukushkin looked to hit back in the second set but with the set tied at 4-4, Nishikori broke again before seeing out the match in 91 minutes.
“I am glad that I could win in two sets,” Nishikori said. “I struggled in the second set but was focused on my serve. My serve was good today and I held out.”
Querrey dished up 11 aces against Nishioka, saved both break points he faced and closed out the win in just 72 minutes.
“We had a lot of close games, it was a tough match,” Querrey told atptour.com. “I kept hitting through the court, and I didn’t lay off on many balls. I was happy with the way I played.”
“I didn’t know much about Nishioka, except that he’s a crafty lefty. It was tough to hit the ball through him but I kept pressing.”
Nishioka admitted he had been outplayed by Querrey, who reached the semis of the Memphis Open for the third time.
“If you don’t take the chances you get, then you are not going to beat players at this level,” said Nishioka. “Today I was shown (the gap in ability between us).
Teenager Taylor Fritz beat Benjamin Becker of Germany 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7-5) on Friday at the Memphis Open, becoming the youngest American to reach an ATP semifinal since 1989.
Fritz needed 2 hours, 20 minutes to continue his amazing run at The Racquet Club. Fritz, who turned 18 on Oct. 28, used his big serve and strong forehand to advance to his first career ATP semifinal as the youngest American since Michael Chang won the Wembley Championships in 1989 at the age of 17.