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Nishikori stuns Murray, Wawrinka prevails over Del Potro

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Kei Nishikori of Japan reacts to a point against Andy Murray of Great Britain during their 2016 US Open men's singles quarterfinals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 7, 2016 in New York. Kei Nishikori stunned Andy Murray to reach the US Open semi-finals, holding his nerve in a breathtaking final set to move two wins away from becoming the first Asian man to capture a Grand Slam singles title. Don EMMERT / AFP

Kei Nishikori of Japan reacts to a point against Andy Murray of Great Britain during their 2016 US Open men’s singles quarterfinals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 7, 2016 in New York. Kei Nishikori stunned Andy Murray to reach the US Open semi-finals, holding his nerve in a breathtaking final set to move two wins away from becoming the first Asian man to capture a Grand Slam singles title.<br />Don EMMERT / AFP

Kei Nishikori outlasted Andy Murray in five sets to reach the semifinals of the on-going U.S Open, where he will face third-seeded Stan Wawrinka, who wore down Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro in four grueling sets.

The scores in the Murray match are not the type you have in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam, but they tell the story behind the 1/6; 6/1; 4/6; 6/1; 7/5 final tally. When the Scot took the first six games to one, it seemed the match was going to be short.

However, temperament got the better side of Murray and he lost the second set by an equal margin. It was the third set that had the elements of a true battle, with the Japanese prevailing 6/4.

The back-and-forth spectacle continued as Murray leveled two sets a piece when he took the fourth set 6-1. The deciding fifth set became the battle of the sports war.

Serving to level in the sixth game, Nishikori was forced to deuce but survived. In the seventh game with Murray serving, he was up 40-15 courtesy of a drop shot attempt by Nishikori to end a long rally.

A netted forehand by Murray gave Nishikori 30-0 lead followed by service winner but Murray fought back to deuce and had the first game opportunity yet Nishikori held to level four games apiece. Murray held serve to lead 5-4 but Nishikori took the 10th game without dropping a point.

In the 11th game, Murray delivered a serve that was an outright winner but was called a let (the service be replayed). Although he missed the first delivery, he got up 15-0 on a close call, and then missed forehand to fall behind 15-30. At 30-all, he made a double-fault to face a break point, which he conceded to give Nishikori a 6-5 lead. Serving for the set (and match), Nishikori’s first serve barely missed the line and he double-faulted to go down 0-15.

He leveled when Murray’s service return sailed over the Nishikori baseline. Then two consecutive return errors gave the Japanese star the match point. He missed the first serve. A strong second serve elicited a shallow return and Nishikori drove the ball deep to Murray’s backhand and dashed to the net. Murray’s attempted backhand passing shot landed in the net. Nishikori was through to the semifinals.

Juan Martin del Potro reached the quarterfinal match without dropping a set in the preceding matches. He was on a dream run, having entered the draw as a wildcard, courtesy of his status as a former champion in New York.

Stan Wawrinka won the toss and elected to receive. It almost paid off as he got a break point lost on a sliced backhand return of serve. The Argentinean held serve and broke Wawrinka to lead 2-0. Although forced to deuce, he held to lead 3-0. With their big serving, it seemed the first set would go to Del Potro but Wawrinka fought back and leveled at four games apiece.

The set was decided by a tie-break won by the Swiss player. Del Potro broke Wawrinka’s serve in the seventh game of the third set to lead 4-3 and eventually took the set 6-4. Stan was the dominant player in the third set, which he won 6-3.

The signs of fatigue were showing as Del Potro double-faulted to lose the first game after being forced to deuce. Serving to consolidate, the Swiss lost the first two points but rallied to win for a 2 – 0 lead. Then Wawrinka went for a change of rackets, while Del Potro sat on the side bleachers, resting.

The Argentinean had a sitting forehand to take a point close to the net but drilled the ball into the net and he lost his serve to fall behind 3 – 0 in games. When Wawrinka held for a four-game lead, the end was in sight but Del Potro found the energy to win his serve in the fifth game.

With the game tally at 5-1, Del Potro held serve, slapping his characteristic forehand beyond Wawrinka’s reach. It was his last hurray, as the third seed reeled four straight points to win the game set and match that lasted three hours and ten minutes.



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