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Nishikori Upsets Berdych To Seal Milestone; Baghdatis Up Next

Tokyo, Japan

Baghdatis© Getty ImagesMarcos Baghdatis reached his third semi-final in 2012.

Eighth seed Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese player to reach the semi-finals of the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, upsetting No. 2 seed Tomas Berdych 7-5, 6-4 on Friday in Tokyo.

Squaring off for the fourth time, Nishikori created 13 break point opportunities against the big-serving Berdych, breaking the Czech four times. The 22 year old had no trouble closing out the World No. 6 to advance in one hour and 58 minutes. Nishikori improved to 3-1 versus the recent US Open semi-finalist, avenging an earlier season loss at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.

The 17th-ranked Nishikori is into the semi-finals of an Asian-swing event for the second straight week following his last four showing in Kuala Lumpur, where he lost to eventual champion Juan Monaco. Nishikori is aiming to advance to his first final in 2012, with his most recent title match appearance coming last year in Basel (l. to Federer). He is looking to win his first title since capturing the Delray Beach crown in 2008 as a qualifier.

On Saturday, Nishikori will take on Marcos Baghdatis, who dismissed qualifier Dmitry Tursunov 6-2, 6-4 in his quarter-final match. Baghdatis capitalised on three of his six break point chances and saved all three break points he faced to beat Tursunov for the second time this season in one hour and 21 minutes. The Cypriot also won their meeting at the Apia International Sydney.

“Dmitry is a tricky player,” said Baghdatis. “He can find a way to come back with his big shots, big serves and big returns. I felt pressure in the whole match. I’m very happy because when there was pressure, I served really well and took my chances at the beginning of the match and the beginning of the second set.”

With the victory, Baghdatis recorded 30 wins in a season for the fourth time. The World No. 46 will contest his first semi-final since February, when he lost in the Zagreb semi-finals to Lukas Lacko. Baghdatis is looking to win his fifth ATP World Tour trophy, with his latest triumph coming in 2010 at Sydney. His most recent final appearance was in Kuala Lumpur last year.

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