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Kei Nishikori loses in Citi Open quarterfinals

Kyodo

Kei Nishikori suffered a quarterfinal loss against Germany’s Alexander Zverev on Friday and crashed out of the Citi Open.

Nishikori, the seventh seed and 2015 champion, was handed a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 loss by the world No. 3 Zverev at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center, falling in a third set that had been delayed by rain for nearly 2½ hours.

The 28-year-old powered through the first set, breaking the German’s serve once and saving two break points. But Nishikori lost momentum in the second as Zverev leaned on his serve, blasting six aces on the way to winning 87 percent of points on first serve.

“After being broken in the second set, my opponent relaxed and started to play better,” Nishikori said. “He cranked up his service game and kept delivering in the third set as well.”

Zverev was responsible for Nishikori’s exit last year in the semifinals of the same tournament. In their only other match-up, Nishikori beat the German in the Monte Carlo Masters semifinals in April, only to lose in the final against clay king Rafael Nadal.

Nishikori, currently ranked 20th in the world, was making his fifth appearance at the hardcourt tournament — one of the season’s 13 ATP World Tour 500 series tournaments — since he was ousted in the third round in his 2013 debut.

He defeated American John Isner in 2015 to claim the title, but did not compete the following year.

Germany’s Zverev, 21, improved to 14-2 in his four appearances at the Citi Open.

He was scheduled to face 19-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece on Saturday. The No. 10 seed Tsitsipas beat No. 3 David Goffin 6-3, 6-4.

Tsitsipas is coming off his first run to the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament, last month at Wimbledon.

On the other half of the draw, Andy Murray pulled out of his quarterfinal after winning a trio of three-setters and lamenting a schedule that had him start his latest victory at midnight.

Murray cited fatigue when he withdrew Friday, hours before he was supposed to face 19-year-old Alex de Minaur, who was given a walkover into the semifinals.

The remaining men’s quarterfinal between No. 16 Andrey Rublev of Russia and unseeded Denis Kudla, who is from nearby Arlington, Virginia, never got started because of rain and was pushed to Saturday.

In the only women’s quarterfinal that concluded, Andrea Petkovic got past No. 6 seed Belinda Bencic 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (10-8). The other three women’s matches were moved to Saturday.

Storms earlier in the week forced some men to play twice in one day.

Murray’s third-round victory over Marius Copil ended just past 3 a.m. on Friday, after rain delayed the start of Thursday’s action for 2½ hours. Afterward, Murray told a small group of reporters that he “potentially” could withdrew from the tournament.

He also announced Friday that he was going to skip next week’s Toronto Masters.

Murray is working his way back into form after having surgery on his right hip and being sidelined for 11 months.

“I’m exhausted after playing so much over the last four days, having not competed on the hard courts for 18 months,” said Murray, whose three matches each lasted more than 2½ hours. “I also need to be careful and to listen to my body as I come back from a long-term injury.”