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Kei Nishikori rolls into quarters; Naomi Osaka ousted

Kyodo, AP

Kei Nishikori beat Canada’s Denis Shapovalov in straight sets on Thursday to advance to the Citi Open quarterfinals, while compatriot Naomi Osaka suffered a second-round defeat.

Nishikori, the seventh seed, earned a 7-6 (7-1), 6-3 win over the No. 26 Shapovalov despite the Canadian’s seven aces. The former world No. 4 didn’t allow a single break point and capitalized on Shapovalov’s six double faults.

In their only other meeting, the 19-year-old Canadian handed a first-round loss to Nishikori at the Mexican Open earlier this year.

Nishikori, currently ranked 20th, is making his fifth appearance at the hardcourt Citi Open since his debut in 2013. He defeated American John Isner in 2015 to claim the championship, but chose not to defend the title the following year.

The 28-year-old faces No. 3 Alexander Zverev of Germany in the quarterfinals on Friday. The pair have split their two meetings.

Seems safe to say Zverev has never hugged an opponent quite the way he did his brother, No. 15 seed Mischa after beating his older sibling 6-3, 7-5.

And Mischa has never beamed after a loss quite the way he did on this occasion — or dealt with the emotions he experienced beforehand.

“A lot of different feelings. First of all, happiness; I was proud. When we were at the coin toss and then took the picture and I walked back to the baseline, I had to, like, a little bit fight my tears, because I felt like, ‘It just finally came true,’ ” said Mischa, who turns 31 in a few weeks, while Alexander is 21. “Because we’ve been playing against each other in the backyard in our mini-tennis court and imagining that we would play against each other, like, in a Grand Slam final.”

This was not quite Zverev vs. Zverev for the Wimbledon trophy, as the two Germans had first dreamed about a decade or so ago. Still, it was a unique moment, with their father, Alexander Sr. — the man who taught both how to play tennis and coaches them to this day — sitting in a front row seat in a corner of the stadium. Their mother was in the stands, too.

“I just enjoyed it out there,” Alexander said.

No. 2 John Isner was eliminated 6-4, 7-6 (8-6) in the second round by Noah Rubin, who then had to go out and play another match, which he lost to No. 16 Andrey Rublev.

The Zverevs had met twice before in qualifying matches, most recently in 2014, but never during the real rounds of a tournament.

Their match Thursday was the first between brothers on tour since Gerald and Jurgen Melzer played two years ago.

The dynamics were a bit different from a usual match. The Zverevs know each other’s on-court strengths and weaknesses so well. There wasn’t much emotion from either. And not much cheering from spectators, who maybe had a hard time picking which one to pull for. Instead of using simply a last name to refer to a player, the normal practice, the chair umpire used first names, too. As in: “Game, Sascha Zverev,” using Alexander’s nickname.

In the women’s singles, Naomi Osaka was knocked out after falling in a second-round decider against Poland’s No. 62 Magda Linette.

Despite beating her opponent on aces and saving eight of 13 break points, Osaka fell 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to the unseeded Linette in their first career match and missed out on securing her fourth quarterfinal of the year.

After quickly losing the first set at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center, Osaka continued to struggle in the second as she repeatedly missed the baseline.

The 20-year-old gained momentum with a 4-3 lead, and went on to equalize after nailing her first ace of the match. But after play went back-and-forth in the third set, Linette broke Osaka’s serve to go up 5-3 and claim the hard-fought match.

Osaka, ranked 17th, had only lost once to a player outside the top 50 this year, falling to Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic in the second round of the Nature Valley Classic in June.

In other tennis action, Venus Williams beat Heather Watson 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 on Thursday night in the second round of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose.

The third-seeded Williams is the highest-seeded player remaining in the event after defending champion Madison Keys joined top-seed Garbine Muguruza, a Wednesday scratch, on the sideline due to a right wrist injury.

Keys, an American, was slated to play Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 winner over lucky-loser Magdalena Frech of Poland.

Romanian fifth seed Mihaela Buzarnescu beat 16-year-old American qualifier Amanda Anisimova 7-5, 2-6, 6-1 to reach her seventh WTA quarterfinal of the season. Buzarnescu rallied from a 5-3 deficit in the opening set, and broke Anisimova’s serve to start the third set en route to a 4-0 lead.