Nishioka Records Breakthrough Semi In Atlanta
Isner, Kyrgios in action Friday
#NextGen star Yoshihito Nishioka reached his maiden ATP World Tour semi-final on Friday at the BB&T Atlanta Open, not dropping serve in recording his most convincing win of the week over Horacio Zeballos, 6-4, 6-4.
Next up for Nishioka is second seed and fellow #NextGen star Nick Kyrgios, who won a hard-fought match against fifth seed Fernando Verdasco, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3. The win puts him into his first ATP World Tour semi-final since the Millennium Estoril Open in April.
“I’ve been working on my serve a lot. More percentage, more power,” said Nishioka. “And before I was very emotional, throwing racquets and getting frustrated. But I’ve been more calm since Wimbledon. I think that’s why I’m winning more now.”
Nishioka opened the match by breaking Zeballos and held his slight lead throughout the rest of the set. The 20-year-old baseliner dropped just three points on serve in the opening set and denied his Argentine opponent any break point chances.
The second set was identical to the first, with Nishioka breaking his opponent to love in the opening game and only dropping three points on serve to take the match.
Nishioka, No. 97 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, cracked the Top 100 last month after winning the ATP Challenger Tour event in Winnetka, Illinois. He also reached the quarter-finals of the Memphis Open in February.
Kyrgios dropped just four points on serve in his first set against Verdasco. He grabbed the lone break on Verdasco’s serve to lead 2-1 and then held the advantage through the rest of the set.
Both players traded service holds throughout the second set to force a tie-break, Kyrgios earned an early mini-break and took a 4/2 lead, but Verdasco fought back valiantly to win five of the final six points to force a deciding set.
But rather than get rattled, Kyrgios refocused to immediately break Verdasco and race to a 3-0 lead in the final set. The Australian resumed his dominance on serve, dropping just five points in the deciding set to take the match. Kyrgios improved his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Verdasco to 2-0.