Japan’s Kei Nishikori played spoilsport to Andy Murray’s remarkable tennis summer and defeated the Scotsman in US Open quarterfinal after being down two sets to one. Murray was being touted as the favorite to win the 2016 US Open after taking his second Wimbledon title this year, followed by his gold-medal winning performance in the Rio Olympic Games. But the Japanese was ready on Wednesday to pay the Brit on the same token with some great retrievals and a fantastic forehand that saw him score a number of points in the fourth and fifth sets. Murray had looked good after the first three sets but couldn’t anticipate Nishikori’s turnaround with flawless tennis in the last one hour of the match. In the other men’s quarterfinal, Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka defeated Juan Martin del Potro to dash the big comeback hopes of the giant Argentinian. In women’s quarterfinals, Serena Williams dropped a set against the no.5 seeded Romanian Simona Halep but still won the match. The American next takes on Czech Republic’s no. 10 seed Karolina Pliskova for a place in the US Open final.
Kei Nishikori ignored all past statistics, when he lost the first set 1-6 in his quarterfinal match against the no.2 seed and tournament favorite Andy Murray of Great Britain. He came back strongly in the sixth game of the second set and broke Murray’s service. The seventh game had to wait since it started raining with Nishikori leading 40-30. The players left the court for the roof to close. When they came back, the Japanese took the game to lead 4-3. After two service holds by Murray and Nishikori in the next two games, Nishikori broke Murray’s service yet again in the tenth to level the set scores 1-1. But the Scot appeared to have bounced back by breaking Nishikori’s service in the opening game of the third set. The Japanese was not finished and broke right back with a forceful play next. This went on until the ninth game, in which Murray broke Nishikori again and held his own service in the tenth game to lead by two sets to one.
Just when everyone thought that the 2012 US champion will wrap up things quickly, he was halted by the Japanese in the fourth game of the fourth set as Nishikori elicited a break to lead 3-1. He held his service next and broke Murray’s once again for a 5-1 lead in the fourth set. Then Nishikori held his own service to force the decider. The final set started with Nishikori breaking Murray’s service for the third time in a row. The class was clearly apparent in Nishikori’s court movements. He was aggressive but kept the ball in play. His forehand had become a game-changer after the third set and he took the fullest advantage of Murray losing his focus. Though the Scot broke Nishikori’s service in the fourth game, Nishikori retaliated by breaking back and racing to a 4-2 lead in the sixth game. With Murray’s fate hanging by a thread, he managed to level the score at 4-4 by breaking Nishikori. However, the Japanese held his service to make in 5-4 and with Murray also holding his service, it was 5-5. At 30-30 in the 11th game, Murray committed a double-fault to yield a break point to Nishikori. In a brilliant interplay between the no.2 and no.7 seeds, Nishikori topped and led 6-5 with his service to follow. Nishikori lost the first point of the 12th game but controlled himself superbly to win the set, match and a place in the semifinals.
Nishikori’s semifinal opponent will be Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka, who ended Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro’s brave comeback effort in the other quarterfinal. After a tightly fought first set that Wawrinka took in the tiebreak, del Potro leveled the set scores by winning the second. But lack of conditioning seemed to affect del Potro, who looked fatigued in the third. That worked to Wawrinka’s advantage as he finished with a 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory. In women’s quarterfinals, Serena Williams won another match in Grand Slam tournaments by defeating Romanian no.5 seed Simona Halep 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. The American will next take on no.10 seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova for a place in the final. Pliskova stopped an impressive run of Croatian teenager Ana Konjuh with an easy 6-2, 6-2 victory.
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