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Nishikori rallies to reach semis in Memphis

February 15, 2014

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (AP) — Defending champion Kei Nishikori of Japan rallied to beat Russian Alex Bogomolov Jr. 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the semifinals of the U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships on Friday.

The top-seeded Nishikori will next play 35-year-old American Michael Russell, who upset third-seeded Lleyton Hewitt of Australia 6-3, 7-6 (6) in another quarterfinal match.

Bogomolov broke Nishikori for a 3-2 lead in the second set only to drop his next two service games and lose the set. In the third, Nishikori fought off three break points to hold serve and broke Bogomolov in consecutive games to take a 5-2 lead.

“Obviously, he was playing really well, I thought,” Nishikori said. “He was hitting ball really flat and deep and wasn’t making mistakes, especially from the beginning he was very aggressive. I wasn’t maybe playing 100 percent.”

Fourth-seeded Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan beat American qualifier Alex Kuznetsov 6-1, 6-4 in another match and will next face Ivo Karlovic of Croatia, a 7-6 (4), 6-7 (3), 6-3 winner over American Jack Sock.

Russell needed nearly two hours to finish off the former world No. 1 Hewitt. He was broken after double-faulting twice while serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set and also failed to convert a couple of match points in the tiebreaker before finally closing it out.

“Every time we play it’s a battle,” Russell said. “It’s kind of the mentality knowing, ‘Yeah, you’re serving it out. But this guy has a really good return.’ And vice versa the same thing when he’s serving.”

Russell is the second-oldest player ranked in the top 100 behind Tommy Haas, who will turn 36 in April.

Hewitt fell short in his attempt to reach 600 career match victories this week in Memphis. He needed to win the title to join Roger Federer (932) and Rafael Nadal (669) as only the third active player to reach the milestone.

“My rhythm on my serve wasn’t there,” Hewitt said. “I was feeling my shoulder a little bit and just couldn’t hit my spots. So that was putting me under a lot of pressure then, and he makes a lot of balls and makes you play a lot.”

Karlovic, who has five career titles, served up 16 aces in knocking the 21-year-old Sock out of his second quarterfinal this year.

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