HALLE, GERMANY – ATP
Kei Nishikori advanced to the semifinals of the grass-court Gerry Weber Open for the second straight year on Friday, winning a quarterfinal war of attrition against Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz.
Nishikori, ranked fifth in the world and the second seed, beat his 51st-ranked opponent 6-4, 5-7, 6-3. Nishikori will face Italy’s Andrea Seppi in the semis after he advanced when Gael Monfils was force to retire due to injury.
“It was a really tough match,” Nishikori said. “I am so happy to have won.”
In the first quarterfinal, Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic, the eighth seed, fired a record 45 aces to see off third seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-7 (8-10), 6-3. Karlovic’s total was the most ever in a three-set match. In the quarterfinals, Karlovic will take on top seed Roger Federer.
Against Janowicz, the first Pole to reach a Grand Slam semifinal when he accomplished that feat at Wimbledon in 2013, Nishikori had his hands full from the start. Janowicz showed great variety with his shots and great speed in running down shots from Nishikori that looked like sure winners.
Neither player could manage a break until Nishikori clinched the first set by breaking in the 10th game. Janowicz broke in the third game of the second set and held serve to go up 3-1.
Nishikori did well to handle the Pole’s hard serves, and Janowicz barely held serve in the sixth game to make it 4-2. Nishikori finally managed to pull even by breaking in the 10th game, but Janowicz dug in and fought off several game points to break back and then serve for the set.
Although Janowicz continued to foil many of Nishikori’s best efforts in the third set, the Japanese star proved more resilient as the match went on. Leading 5-3, Nishikori brought up his first match point with his eighth ace of the day and clinched it when Janowicz hit a return into the net. Nishikori improved to 77-21 in his career in deciding sets.
“In the second set, my opponent was able to raise his game and my concentration level sagged,” Nishikori said. “At the end, I was able to find my strength again.”
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