Tennis

Kei Nishikori outlasts Benoit Paire in two-day marathon, sets up quarterfinal clash with Rafael Nadal

AFP-JIJI

No. 7 seed Kei Nishikori came back from 1-4 and 3-5 down in the final set to beat France’s Benoit Paire and set up a Roland Garros quarterfinal clash against defending champion Rafael Nadal on Monday.

Nishikori won 6-2, 6-7 (8-10), 6-2, 6-7 (8-10), 7-5 in a shade under four hours to reach his third last-eight clash at the French Open.

“He almost had it today,” said Nishikori who had led two sets to one when the last-16 tie was suspended on Sunday.

“He served for the match at 5-3 but I just tried to fight and play one point at a time.”

The 29-year-old could have wrapped it up in the fourth set when he had two match points but he squandered both, the second on a double fault.

Paire, the world No. 38 who was trying to make the quarterfinal of a Slam for the first time, was eventually undone by 15 double faults and 79 unforced errors.

Nishikori has only defeated 11-time French Open champion Nadal twice in 12 meetings, with both of those wins coming on hard courts.

The 33-year-old Spaniard has won all four of their meetings on clay.

“It’s going to be a tough match, he’s the greatest ever clay court player,” said Nishikori.