Nishioka Reaches Second QF Of 2022 In Rainy Washington
After defeating last week’s Atlanta finalists Jenson Brooksby and Alex de Minaur in consecutive matches to kick-start his week at the Citi Open, Yoshihito Nishioka upset seventh seed Karen Khachanov 7-6(2), 7-6(1) on Thursday to reach the quarter-finals in the U.S. capital for the first time.
It was one of only three singles matches to be completed before heavy rain brought an early end to the day's play.
"Feeling wonderful," the 26-year-old said after his latest victory. "From the first round, a very tough opponent [in Brooksby]. And then De Minuar, we always play tough matches with each other. Everybody knows he is fast, and I am fast, so everyone is thinking 'who is faster?' It was a battle yesterday."
Fighting back from 1-4 down in the second set on Thursday, the World No. 96 edged through to notch his first win against Khachanov in three ATP Head2Head meetings and advance to his second tour-level quarter-final of the 2022 season (Acapulco).
"I never beat him, Khachanov, from when we were juniors," Nishioka said. "I lost last year in the Olympics against him. Today I really wanted to bat him. It was a very, very close match but today I figured out how to beat him.
"Today was a crazy hot day. We both were a little bit tired for sure. I love long rallies; he doesn't like it. He wants to hit big forehands, but I tried to keep making him run for balls and move him.... It was, I think, a mentality battle."
Currently the Japanese No. 2 behind Taro Daniel, Nishioka has moved ahead of his countryman to No. 79 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings this week. He reached the Top 50 in 2020 and could return there by winning the D.C. title this week.
He will next face Daniel Evans, who saved a match point before advancing past third seed Taylor Fritz via retirement, leading 3-6, 7-6(6), 4-1. Fritz, playing in his first event since his Wimbledon quarter-final loss to Rafael Nadal, began to struggle physically in the second set but found a brilliant backhand winner to bring up match point at 6/5 in the second-set tie-break.
But Evans was rock solid in winning the next three points to level the match, and continued to make the fading Fritz work in the third set before his eventual retirement.
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Mikael Ymer also beat the rain to book a quarter-final berth with a 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-4 triumph against Emil Ruusuvuori. The Swede took out both former World No. 1 Andy Murray and Aslan Karatsev in three sets in his previous matches this week and Ymer proved his resilience again to clinch his first win in three attempts against Ruusuvuori, who stunned second seed Hubert Hurkacz on Wednesday. The 23-year-old will next take on Grigor Dimitrov or Sebastian Korda, with the Bulgarian up a set in that matchup.