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, awaits an unseeded American in the semi-finals, either Mackenzie McDonald or home favourite Denis Kudla next. He is bidding for his 13th ATP Tour trophy and his first since Brisbane in 2019.