MELBOURNE PARK, Australia- Japan’s Kei Nishikori, the 24th seed rallied from a set down topple No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in five sets, 2-6 6-2 6-1 3-6 6-3, while fourth seeded Andy Murray of Scotland moved on when his opponent Kazak Mikhail Kukushkin retired in the third set on Monday at the Australian Open.
Nishikori became the first Japanese man to make the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in 80 years when Ryosuki Nunoi and Jiro Satoh accomplished the feat.
Nishikori targeted Tsonga’s backhand during the match, “I watch some matches this last week,” said Nishikori. “You know, he was hitting bombs, a lot of forehands, a lot of inside out. I was, yeah, try to be careful at the start, tried to go his backhand.”
At the beginning of the second set, Nishikori stopped play because there seemed to be a problem with the surface. “I guess it was too hot,” said Nishikori. “You know, first of all I didn’t know what’s happen. Ball didn’t bounce. I thought it’s going to, you know, replay the point. But they say no. But I broke that game. So, you know, it worked well for me.”
Tsonga who lost to Nishikori on two previous occasions spoke about why it’s a challenge to play him. “It’s tough to play against him because he run a lot and everything’s coming back. Even when he’s far in the point, he come back on his line.”
“I had a good opponent today. Yeah, was difficult. The ball was playing a lot because of the temperature. I didn’t play, you know, a really good tennis. I didn’t control, you know, everything.
“Yeah, it was not a nice moment, I mean for me.
“Usually I’m good. But he was just better than me.
“I mean, I will go out of the court, you know, I still feel like I’m fresh.
“But I lost this one. You know, sometimes it’s not about run on the court or feel good on the court. It’s about your technique, I mean, about how you feel the ball, and that’s it.”
Tsonga had his serve broken six times while he committing 70 unforced errors during the match.
Nishikori plays Scotland’s Andy Murray in the quarterfinals.
Murray moved through the draw when his opponent Kukushkin retired trailing 6-1, 6-1, 1-0 with a leg injury.
“It was after my last match against Monfils,” said Kukushikin I mean, I played two matches five set. Yesterday I was just, I don’t know, even not able to lift my leg. I mean, I have problem with the left hip.
Before the match I warming up, but I see I cannot play full today just because my left hip doesn’t allow me to run, even to serve. I was only able to serve the second serve with the pain.
“Unfortunately these last two rounds, it’s cost me a lot. Today, unfortunately, I was not able to show anything, to play, to compete, especially on this level.”
“I thought it was best he retired,” said Murray, “because it was pointless. You know, he wasn’t running. The people probably weren’t enjoying the match that much. I certainly wasn’t because nothing was happening. You know, there’s no real good points or anything ’cause he couldn’t move properly.
“Sometimes it’s best just to stop.”
Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News