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Tennis: Nishikori stops Raonic at 2.26am to reach US Open quarters

Kei Nishikori (right) beat World No. 5 Milos Raonic at 2.26am on Tuesday morning in New York to reach the US Open quarter-finals, matching his best result in the Grand Slam. Photo: AFP.

Kei Nishikori (right) beat World No. 5 Milos Raonic at 2.26am on Tuesday morning in New York to reach the US Open quarter-finals, matching his best result in the Grand Slam. Photo: AFP.

September 2, 2014: Kei Nishikori twice came from a set down to beat World No. 5 Milos Raonic 4-6, 7-6, 6-7, 7-5, 6-4 and move into the quarter-finals of the US Open, matching his best-ever result in a Grand Slam.

 

Nishikori, the World No. 11, became the first Japanese man to reach the last eight of the US Open since Zenzo Shimidzu in 1922 and will next face Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka, the World No. 4 who beat Tommy Robredo 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-2.

 

Nishikori was competing in the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the seventh time, but had only progressed beyond that stage once before, at the 2012 Australian Open.

 

However, the 24-year-old eventually prevailed over Raonic in a match that lasted four hours 19 minutes and finished at 2.26am, tying for the latest finish in US Open history (equalling Mats Wilander vs Mikael Pernfors in 1993 and John Isner vs Phillipp Kohlschreiber in 2012).

 

“It was really tough to concentrate all the time,” Nishikori said. “I just tried to play one point at a time and keep fighting.”

 

Watched over by coach Michael Chang, the five-foot 10-inch Nishikori was certainly no physical match for the six-foot five-inch Raonic, as ‘The Missile’ slammed down 35 aces to eight by the Japanese and hit 86 winners compared to his opponent’s 53.

 

However, Nishikori made far fewer unforced errors – 41 to 72 – and won a far higher percentage of points on his second serve (66% vs 47%), eventually clinching the victory by winning the deciding set 6-4.

 

Nishikori won his sixth ATP title in April at the Barcelona Open in Spain and two weeks later reached the final of a Masters 1000 event for the first time at the Madrid Open, but had to retire in the third set against Rafael Nadal due to injury. Nishikori is currently the only Asian player in the world’s top 30, with Taiwan’s Rendy Lu Yen-hsun at 34.

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