LONDON – Kei Nishikori and Misaki Doi both reached the fourth round after straight-set third-round victories on Saturday, a day of frequent rain interruptions at Wimbledon.
In the only Grand Slam in which he has yet to reach the quarterfinals, Nishikori has begun to look comfortable and confident on grass, taking every opportunity to volley. Russian Andrey Kuznetsov, ranked 42nd in the world, posed problems with his booming forehands, but his inaccuracy proved costly as Nishikori triumphed 7-5, 6-3, 7-5.
“It was a long match. I managed to disrupt his rhythm with slices and my strokes were solid,” Nishikori said after his marathon match.
Nishikori showed no sign of the oblique muscle issues he entered the tournament with as he reached the fourth round for the second time. He last went this far in 2014. Nishikori’s fourth-round opponent will be No. 9 seed Marin Cilic, who defeated Nishikori that year in the U.S. Open final.
Nishikori was the deserving winner of a close first set. Although his opponent committed the bulk of the unforced errors, Nishikori netted a pair of shots when he was set up for winners in the seventh game. Those errors allowed Kuznetsov to earn the set’s first service break. Nishikori broke back and both players held serve until Nishikori broke on his first set point.
A typically strong return game from Nishikori forced Kuznetsov into some marathon service games in the second set. In the sixth game, Kuznetsov seemed flustered and double faulted two consecutive points and Nishikori won the game’s third break point to go up 4-2.
The second set was followed by a lengthy rain delay and Kuznetsov ran out to a 3-0 lead before rain once again halted play. After a shorter interval, Nishikori broke back and evened the set 3-3. It took Nishikori three break points and two deuces to break Kuznetsov in the 11th game before clinching the match with a love service game.
“It was tough to maintain my concentration with all the rain,” Nishikori said. “It was good to turn it around from 3-0 down in the third set.”
In the women’s singles, the 25-year-old Doi, ranked 49th in the world, defeated 22-year-old German Anna-Lena Friedsam 7-6 (7-1), 6-3 in a 1-hour, 29-minute match that took nearly four hours to complete.
Doi, who last reached the third round in her 2011 Wimbledon debut, will face another German in the fourth round, world No. 4 Angelique Kerber. Doi is 0-4 in her career against Kerber, who went on to win this year’s Australian Open after coming from a set down to defeat Doi in the first round.
Doi becomes the first Japanese to reach the Wimbledon fourth round in the women’s singles since Ai Sugiyama in 2006.