2014/10/22

Kei Nishikori Wins Japan Open Crown

Kei Nishikori withdrawal

(October 5, 2014) Japan’s top player, fourth seed Kei Nishikori won his second Japan Open title on Sunday in Tokyo, taking out the third seed, Canadian Milos Raonic 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4.

For Nishkori, it’s his fourth ATP World Tour title of the year and second in two week. He won last week in Kuala Lumput. for Raonic, it’s his third straight loss in the final of Tokyo.

Nishikori is fifth in the ATP Race to London with five berths up for grabs to compete in the ATP World Tour Finals.

 

“I hope to get to London,” Nishikori said. “I am getting close, but there are two more Masters 1000s and 500s left. These next few weeks will be really important for me.”

“He was serving really well, with a lot of aces. Luckily, I got the first tie-break and that helped my motivation for the match. If I had lost the tie-break, I might have screwed up the whole match. He started aggressively and I think it was one of my toughest games against Milos. I am really happy to win. He had a lot of chances in the third set; he almost broke my serve a couple of times.

“It’s the first time I have won a title two weeks in a row. After the US Open, it was hard to maintain my motivation. I had to stay strong and focused, especially this week when I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent.”

“It is disappointing to lose in my third straight [Tokyo] final,” Raonis said. “To be honest with you, other than the first year [2012] I felt I created my opportunities. Against Kei, he just played better when it came down to the third set [in 2012]. I have felt I have always been in the thick of things the past two years, so I would say two years ago was more disappointing.

“It was a great match. We both played a high level of tennis. At the beginning, the match was passing by really quick, but in the second and third set it was really good. He has been playing with a lot of confidence, he went for his shots and it paid off.”

The 24 year-old, who was US Open finalist, has a 49-10 record on the year.

 

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Final Push to London Starts in Asia

Tomas Berdych

Tomas Berdych

By Abigail Hinto

(September 30, 2014) BEIJING, CHINA – It’s a tight race to the season-ending World Tour Finals in London with 3 more slots remaining (Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic are almost guaranteed in as grand slam champions and are 4th and 5th in the race respectively) and 6 players with a little over 500 race points separating No. 6 Kei Nishikori to No. 11 Grigor Dimotrov.  This week, with Tokyo and Beijing offering 500 points to the winner, could boost a player’s chances of qualifying to the prestigious season-ending event.  And here at the China Open, three of those players are fighting for their spot.

 

Monday night, Dimitrov started his campaign to qualify for the first time to the World Tour Finals with a 3-set victory over Fernando Verdasco.  He faces Pablo Andujar next, a good draw for him in a very loaded field.

 

Tuesday afternoon, Tomas Berdych took his step to once again be part of the 8-player field in London with a comfortable 6-1, 6-2 win over Feliciano Lopez.  Berdych only needed to be solid and steady against a poorly playing Lopez.  Lopez especially had trouble with his serve throwing in double faults in all service games that he was broken.  Twice he double faulted in games when he was down break point.  Berdych has not been playing well in a while, so a solid win plus a win in doubles too, could help him recover his form from earlier in the season when he reached the semis of the Australian Open and won his ninth title in Rotterdam.

 

Another player finding his form is Andy Murray.  He started his Asian swing a week earlier than the other two winning the inaugural title at the Shenzhen Open, his first after his back surgery, where he managed to get through some tough matches.  Murray would like to continue his winning ways to qualify for the 7th straight year for the World Tour Finals held in his home country.  He eked out another tough match Tuesday night against Jerzy Janowicz winning in 3 sets 6-7(9), 6-4, 6-2 in 2 hours and 28 minutes.

 

So who out of these three will make it to London?

 

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who already has qualified for the year-end championship, demolished Guillermo García-López 6-2, 6-1 in his opening match.

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are in Beijing, China covering the China Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow their twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

 

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Marin Cilic Beats Kei Nishikori for US Open Title for First Major

 

(September 8, 2014) Fourteenth seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia won his first major title by beating tenth seed Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 on Monday in the US Open final.

The Croat dominated the match throughout hitting 17 aces and 38 winners during the less than two-hour match

Both players were making their Grand Slam final debuts. The last time this happened was in 1997.

The 25-year-old Cilic is only the third man other than Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray to win a major since the middle of 2005.

Just a year ago Cilic missed the tournament due to a doping suspension which was later reduced.

“I mean, seems completely unreal to be called Grand Slam champion,” Cilic said. “I was dreaming about this all my life, and suddenly last four, five days everything started to change. And with my tennis especially. I started to play absolutely unbelievable starting with the fifth set with Simon. After that I had unbelievable run of the matches against these top guys. And what it means to me, it means everything. It’s just a huge accomplishment and huge moment for myself and for my team and for everybody around me who was with me all these years supporting me, believing in me and never giving up. So this is just the peak of the world.”

“I think I showed, you know, my potential I can beat anybody now,” Nishkori said. So if I can keep train hard and, you know, also practice hard, I think I have more chance coming up.”

The man from Japan defeated 5th seed Milos Raonic in the fourth round and 3rd seed Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals, both in long five-set matches. he followed the wins up by taking out the top seed Novak Djokovic in four sets.

Cilic, dismissed No. 2 seed Roger Federer in the semifinals in straight sets.

Cilic talked about the key to winning the tournament. “The key was definitely I was playing my own game and it was working extremely well. Last ten sets I played I played amazing tennis with everything, starting from serve, starting from movement, all different shots. Return with Federer. In Federer’s match was great I think overall. My performances were great.”

 

“A lot of guys are saying people would like to watch top four guys much more to extend their streak at the top and to extend their run at the Grand Slams, because, I mean, they attract the most, the fans and the TV, and everybody else,” Cilic said. “But sort of one day definitely they gonna go out and there’s gonna be a need for somebody else. I feel this time, this year — I mean, I think the guys from second line were a bit lucky because Andy Murray was also having trouble with his back; Wawrinka was up and down with his tennis after Australia; few other players were not playing at the best all the time. And Rafa is not here. So that opened a little bit the gate for everybody else. I feel it’s gonna definitely be much bigger competition from next year. I feel the guys at the top are gonna pull the other guys, too. I think the game of tennis is definitely going to evolve much more.”

“I feel, very inspirational for all the other guys out there who are, you know, working and sometimes losing motivation, having trouble to dig deep and to believe in the achievements. I would definitely feel much stronger if I would see somebody like me accomplish things like this. It sort of came out of nowhere for me. Few things clicked in just right before tournament sort of. I felt great about them, and match after match I played really good tennis. These last three matches, everything was working perfectly.”

 

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Kei Nishikori Stuns No. 1 Novak Djokovic to Reach US Open Final

(September 6, 2014) Under brutal heat and humidity, Japan’s Kei Nishikori became the first man from Asia to reach a major final, when on Saturday afternoon, the 24-year-old shocked top player Novak Djokovic 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3 at the US Open.

“It’s just amazing, amazing feeling to beat the No. 1 player,” Nishikori said after the match in an on-court interview.

“I expected him to be able to play another five-setter because he had two days off,” Djokovic said of Nishikori’s stamina. “He hasn’t played before this tournament, so he had a big break. He could prepare himself for this tournament. He played some great tennis. I congratulate him for the effort. He was the better player today.”

Nishokori came into the semifinals having played two marathon five-set matches against top 5 players. In the fourth round the 10th seed stopped fifth seed Milos Raonic in a match which ended at 2:26 a.m. on Thursday morning. In his quarterfinal, Nishikori defeated reigning Australian Open champions and third seed Stan Wawrinka. Nishikori played more 81/2 hours combining those two matches.

“That second set my game today was not even close to what I wanted it to be,” said the Serb. “A lot of unforced errors, a lot of short balls. Just wasn’t myself.”

“I don’t want to talk about conditions,” Djokovic continued. “It’s same for both of us. I think he just played better in these conditions than I did. I just wasn’t managing to go through the ball in the court. You know, I wasn’t in the balance. Unforced errors. Even when the ball gets back to his part of the court it’s pretty short; he takes advantage of it. On the other side I didn’t. That’s it.”

 

“Well, this is definitely huge for Japan,” Djokovic commented. “It’s a big country. Over a hundred million people. This can definitely be a great encouragement for tennis in that country. He’s been around for last couple of years. He’s been making a lot of success. But playing finals of a Grand Slam and now fighting for title is definitely something different. You know, he has gotten to another level, and I’m sure that people will praise him.”

Nishikori will face Roger Federer or Marin Cilic in Monday’s final.

More to follow.

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Kei Nishikori Defeats Stan Wawrinka to Reach US Open Semifinals

Kei Nishikori Memphis 2014

(September 3, 2014) Kei Nishikori became the first man from Japan to reach the US Open semifinals since 1918 beating third seed Stan Wawrinka 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7), 6-7 (5), 6-4 on a match which began Wednesday afternoon and ended in the evening.

Nishikori talked about coming back to play this match after the marathon from the other night.

“It was okay,” Nishikori said. “Yesterday was, you know, my body was tight. I was a little bit tired yesterday, but today was almost, you know, not 100% but close to, you know, feeling pretty good my body. It’s great for my confidence, you know, play two five-sets straight and a lot of 7-6. Yeah, it was, you know, tough game, especially after losing fourth set. You know, it was very close tiebreak, you know, but I was playing much better in third and fourth and I have more confidence to get in the fifth set. So, you know, I tried to focus on my service game. I just took, yeah, one chance in the end.”

“He finish really late two days ago, but it’s one match out of the tournament,” Wawrinka said. “So normally after two days or a little bit less you’re there, you feel good, especially when you win. So I wasn’t surprised because I know how is he. From outside he looks really dead, but we know on the court he can play, and he play long like what he did today. If even at the beginning he looks like he’s going to die on the court, but he’s there. Physically he’s there. Even at the end of the match even. We were both quite tired in the fifth set. I try not to show. I still think that I was the fresher on the court, but he handle well. He was really going for his shot in the fifth set. I had some chance to break him. Maybe I should go a little bit more, maybe I should try a few different things, but didn’t happen that way. That’s life.”

The five-set match lasted 4 hours, 15 minutes. On Monday night Nishikori played a 4 hour and 19 minute match beating Milos Raonic, ending at 2:26 a.m. Tuesday, matching the latest finish in US Open history.

Speaking of history, the top Japanese player i s happy to repeat history in being the fir man from his country since 1918 ro reach a major semifinal.

“Very honored to make the history. I always love to play here because I feel a little bit like home, you know. It’s very close where I live. Also a lot of Asian and Japanese fans come up. Always fun to play here. I always enjoy.”

Nishikori will face the winner of the match between No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 8 Andy Murray for a place in the final.

 

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Rafael Nadal Wins Madrid Open After Kei Nishikori Retires

 

(May 11, 2014) Rafael Nadal is back on track for the clay season. World No. 1 Nadal won his fourth Madrid Open on after Kei Nishikori was forced to pull out of the match with a back injury with Nadal leading 2-6, 6-4, 3-0 in the final on Sunday.

“I’m very sorry for Nishikori,” Nadal said. The No. 1 Japanese player was leading the Spaniard 6-2, 4-2 when he first felt pain.

“He’s an unbelievable player that will fight to be in London (ATP World Tour Finals),” Nadal added. “I am sure of that. I really hope that the injury is not too bad and he will be able to compete in Roland Garros.”

“I suffered a similar situation in Australia this year,” said Nadal who lost this year’s Australian Open final to Stanislas Wawrinka. “So I know what I’m talking about and how bitter it is, especially when you’re playing an important match.”

Nishikori, 24, who was participating in his first Masters Series final, said that despite the injury he has a positive look at the future.

“There is a lot of confidence I get from this tournament by beating (Ferrer) in three sets and playing well in the final today. It’s going to be very exciting at (Roland Garros) because I never feel like this on clay. I’m very confident of whatever I hit going for winners. I can hit from either side – forehand or backhand – so it’s a very good feeling that I have on clay right now.”

The loss ended Nishikori’s consecutive win streak at 14. He has already withdrawn

The victory gives Nadal his 27th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title and his 63 ATP career title. Nadal now is alone in sixth place in tournament wins in the Open Era.

“Winning at home is always more special than winning anywhere,” said the 27-year-old. “Having the chance to play in front of your home crowd… is unforgettable for me. This city gives me a lot. This is a very important victory for me.”

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Novak Djokovic Moves into Sony Open Final After Kei Nishikori Withdraws with Left Groin Injury

 

Kei Nishikori withdrawal

(March 28, 2014) A little over an hour before he was to play his semifinal against Novak Djokovic, Kei Nishikori pulled out of the Sony Open citing a left groin injury. Nishikori just scored back-to-back three-set wins over No. 4 David Ferrer in the fourth round and No. 5 Roger Federer in the quarterfinals.

For Djokovic, who automatically advances to the final against the winner of the Rafael Nadal – Tomas Berdych match, it’s his second walkover her received in Miami this year. Florian Mayer was forced to pull out before his match in the third round.

Nishkori announced his withdrawal on Facebook and Twitter:

 

“I really felt the last match against Roger, the quarterfinal,” Nishikori told media. “I had it before Indian Wells, and I hurt it in Delray. It wasn’t 100% yet.

“Yeah, it’s really sad, of course, semifinal in a big tournament. Was really playing well and beating Dimitrov, David, and Roger. I was really excited to play here the semis.

“But, you know, unfortunately I couldn’t moving side to side. Just tried to warm up today, but I couldn’t move.”

“I’m going to go back to see a doctor in Japan and see how bad it is.  And I don’t know if I can play or not, but I will try.”

“t was a great run for me to beat two top 10 guys,” Nishikori said.  “And Dimitrov was also playing well this year.  And four good players to beat, it was a good week for me.

“So I have a lot of confidence, and it’s pretty unfortunate to get injured, but this was a very exciting and positive week for me.”

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Kei Nishikori Rallies to Upset Roger Federer at Sony Open

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori

(March 26, 2014) No. 5 Roger Federer let a set and a break lead slip and a game Kei Nishikori came back for the upset win 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 on Wednesday night to reach the semis of the Sony Open. For Japan’s Nishikori, it’s his second straight day with a victory over a top five player as he won a match against No. 4 David Ferrer on Tuesday after saving four match points. It’s his second straight win over Federer, over whom he now has a 2-1 record against.

He has also snapped Federer’s semifinal run streak at seven straight tournaments in stopping him in Wednesday’s quarterfinal.

No. 21 Nishikori has now advanced to his second ATP Masters 1000 semifinal.

In fact Federer was up a break twice in the second set but couldn’t close out the win.  Federer had his serve broken for the first time in the tournament by Nishikori who broke it four more times. Federer committed 39 unforced errors during the match versus 29 winners.

“Just couldn’t find my rhythm on the serve today, which was surprising, especially after how well I’ve played and served, especially this week, but I think it didn’t take off the way it did during the daytime,” Federer said after the match.  “You could expect that, but then plus the temperature drop had something to do with that.

Roger Federer

Roger Federer

“In the dark, for some reason, I just ‑‑ you know, I haven’t played many matches this year, or maybe lately.  Only one against Tommy Haas in Indian Wells and maybe the switch didn’t work that well for me.

“But still, you know, I had the set and a break, and then another break again, so it’s a bit frustrating.  But I think Kei did well to stay with me and then, you know, not allow me to get that, you know ‑‑ that I could hold my serve and then maybe feel comfortable.

“He right away made me feel uncomfortable and stayed with me, so he was more consistent in the second and third, and those are the ones he won.  At the end it’s his credit, of course, as well.”

“Feeling good, of course, you know, to beat Roger, and it’s second time to beat him,” the 24-year-old said.  “It was different conditions.  It was, you know, tough to play on the court, both of us.

“But I thought I really played well, especially in the third.  I was hitting both deep and striking well.  Everything was going well.  You know, there was couple of tough moments, but, you know, I was fighting through and happy to win today.

“He (Federer) wasn’t making a lot of first serves today,” Nishikori explained.  “I don’t know.  Maybe because the wind.  I don’t know.

“So I was trying, you know, to step in his second serve, and my return was going well.  That was the key for the game today.”

Federer said that she sees a bright future for the Japanese player.

“I think Kei does really well controlling the ball,” said the 32-year-old. “He has great technique, especially on the backhand, very simple, very short back swings, so he does a really nice job of having good timing.

“Then the forehand can be sometimes a bit off, but I think he does a good job, you know, with his feet.  He’s a quick mover.  Same with the his serve.  I think he’s done a good job using that to his advantage now.

“I think he’s serving better this year, and I see him moving up the rankings.  Clearly, I mean, with this tournament anyway but also in the future.  I predict he’s going to be top 10 in a short while.”

Nishikori will play Novak Djokovic on Friday for a spot in Sunday’s final.

Federer will go home and prepare for Davis Cup in Geneva the weekend of April 4-6.

 

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Kei Nishikori Repeats as Memphis Champion

 

nishikori memphis

(February 16, 2014) Kei Nishikori repeated as the champion at the U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships in Memphis, stopping Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 6-4, 7-6 (0) on Sunday. For the No. 16 ranked player, this was his first career title defense. He is the first repeat winner since Tommy Haas won in 2006 and 2007.

“It’s amazing to defend a title for the first time, especially here,” Nishikori said. “I had a great memory from last year and I’m playing great.”

“I get a lot of confidence from keeping my ranking in the Top 20. It’s going to take some time to get to Top 10, Top 5, but I think I’m getting close.”

“He’s really fast,” Karlovic said. “He hits winners from any position on the court. That’s his game. He returned really well.”

“It was a good week for me. I’m really happy with the way I played. I hope I will continue like this and by the end of the year get into the Top 40.”

Nishikori was given a wild-card into this tournament, which this year was downgraded to 250 event, it was a 500 point event a year ago when he won.

This is Nishikori’s sixth ATP title.

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Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray Win Tough Challenges to Advance in Melbourne

Nadal fingers

(January 20, 2014) No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 4 Andy Murray survived challenges from opponents to move into the Australian Open quarterfinals on Monday.

Nadal beat a tough Kei Nishikori 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (3).  Nadal survived a fall in the first set in which he broke his shoelace and had to get shoes from his locker, two breaks of serve in the final set and being called for time violation.

“We need referees who understand the game,” said Nadal in regard to his time violation.  “The rules cannot go against the good show.  That’s all.

“If you are playing with 40 degrees, you cannot expect to have 20 seconds recover, 25 seconds recover.  If you are playing crazy rallies, you cannot have 25 seconds recover because then you will not have more rallies because the players cannot have it.  So that goes against the fans, against the show.

“But I repeat:  nothing against the rules.  I accept the rules.  Sometimes I am wrong.  Sometimes I am too slow and I accept that.  I respect the decision of the referee even if I am not happy for that, because was not the right moment to do it, in my opinion, before an advise.  But she did.  That’s all.

“I going to try to go quicker for the future.  But is important to have people on the chair that really understand the game and people who manage this sport who understand the game, and that’s it.

“Because, if not, every time with Hawk Eye, the referee just start watching the watch, 25 seconds, then warning, so then we don’t need any more referees.  We only need lines.  That’s fine.

“Because if not, the referees don’t need to do all the rules.  That is my feeling.  We are making the referees worse than before with all the things that we are making for them easier.”

Nadal praised his opponent who gave him all he could handle for over three hours.

“Kei played fantastic match, in my opinion,” said Nadal.  “Just a few mistakes in some moments that was tough ones.  But for the rest, he played very aggressive, he went for the shots.  He came on court with determination to take the ball very early and go for the winners.

“He really had the right feelings to do it.  So just was a tough match, a very important win.  Very happy.”

Murray 88

Andy Murray failed to capitalize on four match points in the third set before dismissing lucky loser Stephane Robert of France 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (6), 6-2.

In a rare show of frustration, Murray smashed his racquet after the third set.

“Sometimes it’s necessary,’ Murray said with a smile.  “I had I think three match points.  I put a lot of hard work into that third set.  I maybe lost concentration when I served for it.

“In the tiebreak I didn’t lose concentration.  I just missed a couple of shots, one just wide on a forehand I hit clean, just missed.

“Then losing that set was frustrating because it obviously means you’re out there another 30, 40 minutes at least, when I would preferably had been in the locker room.

“My racquet bit the dust.  Unfortunate for it.  But, yeah, I was glad I managed to start well in the fourth.”

 

Despite Roger Federer’s fall in the rankings to No. 6, Murray expects a tough contest.

“I mean, four, five years ago he was losing like three matches a year.  I mean, it was ridiculous, you know, his record across all of the slams and on the regular tour.  I mean, you could count them on your hand how many matches he was losing during the year.

“I’d say the last couple years he’s lost a little bit more.  I think last year you could see at periods he was struggling with his back.  And if he’s fully fit, I’ve said all along, he’s always going to be there or thereabouts in the majors, and he’ll give himself opportunities to win more because he’s that good.”

For Murray, this is his first major tournament since back surgery in the Fall.

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