Kei Keeps London Dreams Alive, Avenges Anderson Defeat
Just four days ago, Kevin Anderson beat Kei Nishikori to lift his first ATP World Tour 500-level trophy at the Erste Bank Open 500 in Vienna, Austria. But on Thursday at the Rolex Paris Masters, Nishikori got his revenge.
The Japanese star defeated Anderson 6-4, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals at the final ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event, maintaining his hopes of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals. If Nishikori did not win in the final match of the day, both Marin Cilic and Dominic Thiem would have taken the two remaining spots at the season finale, guaranteeing their spots in London at The O2 from 11-18 November.
“I had to fix some things to avenge [my loss against] Kevin,” Nishikori said. “I lost a few days ago, so I had to change something, and I think I did well. Maybe he didn’t play his best today, but I think I played good tennis.”
Nishikori, currently ninth in the ATP Race To London, is 325 points behind No. 8 Dominic Thiem and 660 points behind No. 7 Marin Cilic. Both of those players are still alive in Bercy, with Thiem facing defending champion Jack Sock on Friday and Cilic confronting red-hot second seed Novak Djokovic.
Nishikori has now advanced to at least the quarter-finals at six consecutive tour-level events, beginning with his trip to the last four at the US Open. The 28-year-old has won 19 of his past 24 matches, and he is seeking his first ATP World Tour title since 2016 Memphis.
It won’t get any easier for Nishikori, though, as the No. 10 seed next faces 2011 champion Roger Federer, who beat Fabio Fognini earlier in the evening. Federer has won five FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings in a row against Nishikori, and he leads their series 6-2.
The pair just met three weeks ago at the Rolex Shanghai Masters, where Federer broke three times en route to a straight-sets victory. Nishikori will take confidence into Friday’s quarter-finals, though, having moved past seventh-seeded Anderson without facing break point to advance in 80 minutes.
“I have to figure out a little bit how to play Roger again, but I think I’ve been playing well the past couple weeks,” Nishikori said. “Hopefully I can bring that again tomorrow.”
Did You Know?
Nishikori did not break Anderson’s serve in the Vienna final. The Japanese star broke the South African in Anderson’s first service game of the match on Thursday.