Nishikori upsets top-seeded Cilic to reach semis


AP

MEMPHIS–Top-seed Marin Cilic lost in straight sets to Kei Nishikori of Japan in the quarterfinals Friday of the U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships.

Nishikori’s 6-2, 6-2 victory denied Cilic an opportunity to win back-to-back ATP World Tour titles. Cilic claimed his ninth career title two weeks ago in Zagreb, Croatia, and had won nine of 11 matches this year.

Nishikori’s next opponent will be Australia’s Marinko Matosevic who had a 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 7 seed Alexandr Dolgopolov.

Feliciano Lopez of Spain beat American Jack Sock 6-4, 6-3 and next plays Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, a 6-4, 7-6 (5) winner over American Michael Russell.

Cilic’s loss left the tournament without any of its top four seeds in the semifinals. Second-seed Milos Raonic, third-seed John Isner and fourth-seed Sam Querrey were eliminated by the second round.

Nishikori, the fifth seed, reached his second semifinal of the year. He opened the year reaching the same round in Brisbane.

“It was a perfect match for me,” Nishikori said. “Everything went well, my serves and my groundstrokes.”

Nishikori played nearly flawless tennis after breaking Cilic to go up 3-2 in the first set. He broke Cilic twice in the second set to take a 4-1 lead and did not face a break point. Nishikori smashed a forehand winner on match point.

“I was struggling on my service games and not putting enough first serves on the court,” Cilic said. “It’s one of the crucial parts of my game and today it wasn’t working.”

Lopez watched some YouTube videos of Sock to prepare for his first meeting with the 20-year-old.

Lopez served up seven aces and saved four of five break points against the American. Sock was up 2-0 and 40-0 in the second set before losing five straight points. Lopez broke Sock again to go up 4-3, held serve and then broke the American again to advance.

“It gave me a lot of confidence,” Lopez said of breaking Sock in that third game.

Istomin improved to 3-1 against Russell in four career matches, but the 34-year-old American provided a stiff challenge in a match that took 1 hour, 37 minutes.