Monday, Sep 22, 2014

Nishikori stuns Roger Federer to reach Miami semis

Kei Nishikori shakes hands with Roger Federer after their match on day ten of the Sony Open. (USA Today Sports) Kei Nishikori shakes hands with Roger Federer after their match on day ten of the Sony Open. (USA Today Sports)
Reuters | Miami | Posted: March 27, 2014 11:24 am

A tireless Kei Nishikori shocked 17-time grand slam winner Roger Federer 3-6 7-5 6-4 on Wednesday to claim his second top five scalp in two days and reach the semi-finals of the Sony Open.

After knocking off fourth seeded Spaniard David Ferrer in a three-hour marathon on Tuesday, the 21st ranked Japanese was forced to go the distance again, surviving a two-hour centre court battle with Federer.

Nishikori has been one of Federer’s few bogeymen, having now gotten the better of the Swiss maestro in two of their three career meetings.

“To beat Roger, and it’s second time to beat him… I thought I really played well, especially in the third,” Nishikori told reporters. “I was hitting both deep and striking well. Everything was going well.

“There was couple of tough moments, but I was fighting through and happy to win today.”

Arriving in south Florida riding the momentum from a finals appearance at Indian Wells, Federer had been in superb form, cruising into the Miami quarter-finals without dropping a set, highlighted by 49 minute fourth round win over Richard Gasquet.

A two-time Miami champion, Federer convincingly won the opening set and looked ready for an easy night when he twice went up a break in the second.

But each time, the feisty Nishikori would immediately answer back then broke Federer again at 6-5 to level the match.

With the third set heading towards a tie-break it was Federer who blinked while serving to stay in the match at 5-4, slamming an easy forehand into the net and then sending a return long to hand Nishikori triple match point.

Federer would survive the first two but could not save the third, Nishikori whipping a forehand winner off the return to seal the upset.

“I just couldn’t find my rhythm on the serve today,” Federer said. “It was surprising especially after how well I have served and played this week.

“I had the set and a break and up a break again so it is a little frustrating.

“He was more consistent in the second and third so all credit to him.”

Murray Falls

The victory setup a semi-final meeting against world number two Novak Djokovic, who ended Andy Murray’s reign as Miami champion by easing past the sixth seeded Briton 7-5 6-3.

For Djokovic, the victory over Murray was a small measure of revenge as the met for the first time since the Scotsman beat him in last year’s Wimbledon final.

Murray, playing his first event since splitting with coach Ivan Lendl last week, had looked increasingly comfortable and confident on his own but Djokovic kept the Scotsman under almost constant pressure in blustery conditions.

“I was not surprised about the way he played,” said Djokovic, whose coach Boris Becker was also not in Miami as continued…

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