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Nishikori Fights Past Federer, Faces Djokovic Next

Miami, U.S.A.

Nishikori© Getty ImagesKei Nishikori defeats Roger Federer for his second straight Top 5 win.

One day after saving four match points to upset World No. 4 David Ferrer, Japan’s Kei Nishikori once again showed his tenacity to defeat another Top 5 player, Roger Federer, at the Sony Open Tennis on Wednesday night. Nishikori twice rallied from a break down in the second set, coming back to defeat the two-time Miami champion 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

"Feeling good, of course, to beat Roger," said Nishikori. "I thought I really played well, especially in the third. I was hitting both deep and striking well. Everything was going well. There [were a] couple of tough moments, but I was fighting through and happy to win today."

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With the victory, he denied Federer a place in his 50th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final and a rematch with World No. 2 Novak Djokovic. Federer had lost to Djokovic two weeks ago in the BNP Paribas Open final. Djokovic ended Andy Murray’s title defence with a 7-5, 6-3 win earlier Wednesday, and is unbeaten in 10 matches.

"I think Kei does really well controlling the ball," said Federer. "He has great technique, especially on the backhand, very simple, very short back swings, so he does a really nice job of having good timing.

"I predict he's going to be Top 10 in a short while," Federer added.

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Federer had lost just 18 points on serve through his first three matches and continued the impressive trend early on against the 20th-ranked Nishikori, building a 4-1 lead with a love service game. He played a shaky seventh game to drop serve for the first time in the tournament, but broke right back and clinched the set after 34 minutes.

Nishikori refused to be counted out despite twice falling behind a break at 1-2 and 3-4 in the second. He hit back in the next service games and then broke Federer to send the match to a decisive set.

Nishikori failed to take advantage of two break points in the fourth game of the third set, but broke on his third match point opportunity in the final game to claim victory after two hours and eight minutes.

"I could never really get my service games going," admitted Federer. "On the return, as the match went on, I think it was that Kei started to serve a bit better, which made it more difficult."

It was Nishikori's second straight victory over Federer, whom he defeated last May in Madrid. He now edges ahead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head, 2-1, with his 11th win over a Top 10 player.

Nishikori has also split his two previous meetings with Djokovic. He triumphed in their last meeting in the 2011 Basel semi-finals as he blanked the Serbian in the third set.

"He's playing well, no doubt," said Nishikori, who will be contesting his second Masters 1000 semi-final. "I played him a long time ago, maybe three or four years ago in Basel, and I beat him before, so hopefully I can play good like today."

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