© Mike Lawrence/Citi Open

Kei Nishikori reaches his first semi-final in two years with a straight sets win over Lloyd Harris at the Citi Open.

Nishikori Handles Harris To Return To Citi Open Semi-finals

Former World No. 4 will next face McDonald

Former Washington champion Kei Nishikori is back into the last four at Citi Open after overcoming a stern test from Lloyd Harris on Friday to win 6-3, 7-5. 

The Japanese No. 2 booked a place into his first tour-level semi-final since 2019 in Barcelona (l. to Medvedev) as he improved to 19-14 on the season. Nishikori weathered 10 aces from the big-serving Harris, and broke serve four times from 14 opportunities to seal the victory. 

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“It was one of the best tennis [matches] that I played all this week,” Nishikori said. “I think that I started very good – almost too good – until 4-0 and then he started playing better. Things got very tight in the second set; I had so many break points but I couldn’t convert. It was a little stressful, but I am very pleased with how I finished the last points.”

Nishikori was in control of the early exchanges as he raced through the opening set, but faced much more resistance as Harris raised his level in the second set. The top-ranked South African, who claimed his biggest victory over World No. 3 Rafael Nadal yesterday, regularly leaned on his big first serve to keep Nishikori on his toes. 

In response, the Japanese player honed in on his opponent’s second serves, and won 64 per cent (21/33) of those points. Harris faced seven break points in the second set and saved six with big first serves, but he couldn’t keep holding off Nishikori after giving him a crucial look at a second serve at 6-5. Nishikori pounced, and claimed the victory after Harris sent a forehand long.  

Nishikori, who lifted the trophy here in 2015, will next face unseeded American Mackenzie McDonald, No. 107 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, in the semi-finals. Nishikori is bidding for his 13th ATP Tour trophy and his first since Brisbane in 2019.

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It will be Nishikori and McDonald’s first Tour-level meeting. The pair previously met at an ATP Challenger Tour event in 2018 with Nishikori winning comfortably against McDonald, who grew up admiring the Japanese player.

“I think I’m bringing a lot more experience this time. The last time I played him I was pretty 'idolised' by him, and I just didn’t really show up,” McDonald recalled. “He just took it to me. But I’m going for a fight tomorrow and we’ll see what happens.”

McDonald reached his second Tour-level semi-final after defeating countryman Denis Kudla 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 14 minutes. The 22-year-old saved the only break point he faced in a strong serving performance, winning 82 per cent (28/34) of points behind his first serve.