Nishikori Marches Into Indian Wells QFs
The Japanese star rallied from a 1-4 deficit in the second set, winning the last five games to claim victory in 77 minutes. It was his fifth win in five FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings with the No. 60-ranked Young, who had reached two semi-finals last month in Memphis and Delray Beach.
“He started playing much better in the second set, beginning of the second set. I think he was stepping in a little more. And, for me, I think I backed up a little bit,” Nishikori said. “From [1-4], I think I started playing much better, stepping in a little more and playing aggressive... I'm very happy with the way I'm playing right now.”
The 27-year-old Nishikori goes on to face Jack Sock, who continued his inspired run at the BNP Paribas Open with a 4-6, 7-6(1), 7-5 victory over Malek Jaziri. The American is through to the quarter-finals of this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament for the first time, having won the doubles title in the desert two years ago with Vasek Pospisil.
It was a close battle when Sock and Jaziri met in Stockholm last year, with the American prevailing in a third-set tie-break, and the Tunisian tested him again on Stadium 2. World No. 18 Sock triumphed in two hours and 37 minutes, breaking decisively in the 11th game of the decider before closing it out. He struck 13 aces and saved five of seven break points.
The 24-year-old Sock has made a career-best start to 2017, winning two ATP World Tour titles in Auckland (d. Sousa) and Delray Beach (d. Raonic). He looks to take that momentum into his quarter-final clash against Nishikori, whom Sock will face for the first time since 2014. Their FedEx ATP Head2Head series is tied at 1-1.
“Definitely playing my tennis is going to be my best chance to win. When we played in Shanghai and I was able to win, I was playing aggressive, big forehands, coming forward when I could,” Sock said of their 2014 contest. “Just trying to keep him back behind the baseline and try and move him side-to-side. If he's moving in, stepping into balls, forehands or backhands, dictating points, then it's going to be trouble for me.”
Pablo Carreno Busta reached his first Masters 1000 quarter-final as he defeated qualifier Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 7-6(5). The 25-year-old Spaniard has made a strong start to the 2017 season, reaching his fifth ATP World Tour final in Rio de Janeiro (l. to Thiem) and semi-finals in Buenos Aires (l. to Dolgopolov) and Sao Paulo (l. to Cuevas). Next up for Carreno Busta will be Pablo Cuevas, who battled past 11th seed David Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in one hour and 39 minutes.
The 31-year-old Cuevas is in a rich vein of form. The Uruguayan is on a seven-match winning streak after winning the Sao Paulo title on clay last week (d. Ramos-Vinolas). He is now through to the first Masters 1000 quarter-final of his 14-year career and leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Carreno Busta 3-1. Cuevas beat the Spaniard in the Sao Paulo semi-finals earlier this month.