Kei Nishikori reaches first Wimbledon quarter-final, ends 23-year Japanese wait

Annette Crawford
July 11, 2018

"He's got weapons, a big serve and a big forehand", said Djokovic of the World No. 40.

Japanese former world number four Nishikori, seeded 24th, was troubled by his right elbow during the first set which he lost after being broken in the fifth game. I just struggled with a lot of things today. It was hard in the last few games. That's OK. But I don't understand why he (the umpire) didn't allow me to challenge the ball.

The 12-time grand slam champion, who has endured a hard 12 months due to an elbow injury, said he was nearing his best form once more. The Latvian won six games to love in the first two sets and did not give the Japanese player a single break point opportunity.

"Maybe I don't have a good result, a good record with him, but I always enjoy playing him".

Whether he's slamming 42 aces, hitting the ball at up to 136 miles per hour and saving all five break points faced, as the 15th-seeded Australian did during a 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 6-3 victory over Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in Wimbledon's first round on Tuesday. "It's always like a big war for me when I play Novak".

"I guess I just kind of panicked a little bit".

Nishikori, runner-up at the 2014 U.S. Open, won the Court Two match on the second match point in the following game when Gulbis, now limping badly, hit a return long.

"I'm sure that this was my best ever grass match", Nishikori said.

Gulbis came from a set down to beat fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany 7-6 (7-2), 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-0. Everything kind of just went south, I guess.

His match against Nishikori will fall on the first anniversary of him having to retire from his 2017 quarterfinal against Tomáš Berdych with an elbow injury. That precipitated a lengthy absence from the tour and a worrying dip in form and confidence. I feel like I'm playing well. I haven't spent too much time on the court.

"I think you feel more, not angry, but eager to play your best".

Seeded 12, Wednesday will Djokovic's 41st appearance in a Grand Slam quarterfinal. That was a boost after a shock quarterfinal exit at the French Open to World No. 72 Marco Cecchinato of Italy.

"I'm pissed off, of course", said the two-time major quarter-finalist. "Indian Wells, Miami, most of the clay court season", added Djokovic. "A couple (of) guys really, you know, pretending they were coughing and whistling while I was bouncing the ball more or less to the end of the match at that end where I received the time violation". Unfortunately that's it for me for this year. I was top three player for so many years in a row, it was quite a unusual feeling for me not to be able to deliver my game.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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