© New York Open / Alex Smith

Kei Nishikori moves into the quarter-finals during his first ATP World Tour tournament of 2018.

Nishikori Nearly Perfect As Comeback Gains Momentum

Fifth seed will face Albot in QF

Kei Nishikori is looking more and more like his former self. Nishikori, the former World No. 4 who's on the comeback from right-wrist surgery last year, advanced to the New York Open quarter-finals on Wednesday.

The fifth seed needed only 65 minutes to get past Russian Evgeny Donskoy 6-2, 6-4. The Japanese star won 84 per cent of his service points (37/44), including a higher percentage on his second serve (17/20, 85%) than his first (20/24, 83%).

I served really well, especially in the second set. I started getting my rhythm back and my first serve was working really well but also everything else was pretty solid today. I was playing aggressive and coming in,” Nishikori said. “Every match is improving. So far so good. I think today was one of the best again.”

Almost exactly a year ago, Donskoy shocked Roger Federer at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, handing the Swiss his first loss of 2017. But Nishikori avoided a stunner and will next face Moldova's Radu Albot, who upset home favourite and third seed John Isner 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3.

Spoiler alert: Isner's serve was spot on – the American hit 28 aces to just one from Albot. But the 28-year-old from Chisinau seized his lone break point in the decider to reach the quarter-finals on Long Island.

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“Everybody knows that John has the best serve on tour. It's very difficult to return his serve. You just have to guess, be able to somehow put the ball in the court. You just don't know, you just react. If you put the ball in the court then you're in the game and then you try to create something,” Albot said.

Fourth seed Adrian Mannarino secured his second quarter-final of 2018 (Sydney) when German Peter Gojowczyk retired down 7-6(5), 5-7, 1-4. Mannarino is at a career-high No. 25 in the ATP Rankings but the Frenchman is still searching for his maiden ATP World Tour title. He is currently the highest-ranked player without an ATP World Tour crown.

“I was disappointed to lose the first set but I was playing well and I just told myself that I should continue to play this way and see if there's any chance to let him play one or two bad games,” Mannarino said.

The left-hander will next face Spain's Adrian Menendez-Maceiras, who, a day after saving five match points against seventh seed Steve Johnson, made his second-round match look relatively easy. The Spaniard prevailed past Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 7-5, 7-6(5).

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