Nishikori Survives Monfils To Set Semis Clash With Kyrgios In Miami

Kei Nishikori (photo: Miami Open)

MIAMI, April 1, 2016

Thursday’s quarterfinals in the bottom half of the draw of the Miami Open presented by Itaú featured sixth seed Kei Nishikori, who came back from the brink, saving five match points against Gael Monfils to clinch a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 victory.

Nishikori, who reached the stage of the final eight for the first time at Crandon Park, withstood 14 aces, hitting three of his own and won 52% of the total points played to finish the encounter after two hours and 29 minutes.

“When I was down 4-5, love-40, I thought it was going to be it,” Nishikori said. “It was going to be tough to come back. I tried to play one point at time.

“I saw that he was down a little bit in the tie-break, so I tried to be focused. I did pretty well in the tie-break.”

Monfils had to admit the defeat. “At the end, I pushed very hard and definitely had an opportunity to close it out, but Kei fought well. In the tie-break he was just better than me,” the world number 16 from France said.

Nishikori will take on Nick Kyrgios in the semi-finals. The 24th seed and highest-ranked among the Next Generation players on the ATP World Tour, also appeared in his first quarterfinal in Miami to beat the tournament’s number 12 Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6 in the evening session. The 20-year-old Australian, who defeated the Canadian in the pair’s last meeting at Wimbledon 2015, sent down eight aces and saved all five break points he faced, converting one of his own to reach his third semi-final of the season in one hour and 44 minutes.

“I really learned how to return this year,” Kyrgios said. “That definitely set the tone early in the match, and helped me win the first set with that break in hand. That’s the major thing this year. I am giving myself so many more chances and getting so many more opportunities to take over matches.”

“I think he has a big, big amount of talent,” Raonic said of Kyrgios. “He probably has one the biggest upsides in his group. It’s about putting it together and making it count week after week.”

Victoria Azarenka (photo: Miami Open)

Victoria Azarenka (photo: Miami Open)

In the women’s semi-finals, in-form Victoria Azarenka remains unstoppable, knocking out second seed Angelique Kerber 6-2, 7-5 in one hour and 39 minutes.

The world number eight from Belarus will take on Svetlana Kuznetsova in the title match. The 30-year-old Russian ousted Timea Bacsinszky 7-5, 6-3 in one hour and 56 minutes.

“We haven’t played each other in a while but I think we know each other pretty well,” Azarenka said. The two have played eight times before, but their last encounter was more than three years ago.

“The last time we played we were both in different stages of our career so it’s interesting to see us coming back and playing such a high level of tennis. It’s gonna be tough but I’m very looking forward to this challenge.”