Nishikori Saves 3 M.P. To Survive #NextGenATP Paul
Zverev prevails on Friday
Kei Nishikori has done it the hard way this week at the Citi Open. After an opening-round win over Donald Young that finished at 1:39am, he saved three set points to reach the quarter-finals over Juan Martin del Potro in a match that ended at 2:00am.
On Friday night, the second seed continued his penchant for the dramatic this week by saving three match points to defeat wild card and #NextGenATP American Tommy Paul 3-6, 7-6(8), 6-4.
"I think he played good tennis and almost had it today. It was a great battle," said Nishikori. "He got a little bit tight trying to close it out in the end and I didn't make any unforced errors on the big points. Experience helped me through today."
The 20-year-old Paul, currently No. 225 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, scored his two biggest wins back-to-back against seventh seed Lucas Pouille and 11th seed Gilles Muller to reach the last eight. Hitting with precision from the baseline, it appeared that he was on track for another career-best moment after holding match point on Nishikori at 6-3, 5-3.
However, the Japanese player used his experience to claw himself back into the match. He saved the saved match point on his serve at 3-5 an then broke Paul in the next game. In a wild second-set tie-break, Nishikori saved two more match points at 5/6 and 7/8 to ultimately force a decider. The second seed scored the lone break of the final set at 1-1 and held that slight advantage to prevail in two hours and 39 minutes.
"I love the atmosphere and the people in Washington. It's a young crowd and they're very loud, so it's always fun to play here," said Zverev. "I'm just happy to be through to the semi-finals, but obviously don't want to stop here."
The German broke Medvedev twice and maintained control throughout the opening set to grab the early advantage. Medvedev, who upset fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov on Thursday night, found his range in the second set and made it a far more competitive affair. Zverev was not to be denied, though, grabbing the lone break of the set at 4-4. He improves his FedEx ATP Head2Head against Medvedev to 2-0.
"I think Medvedev has a huge game, like a lot of the Russian players who are playing very aggressively," said Zverev. "He looks much stronger in the past year and moves very well, so his game is coming along."