Murray too good for Nishikori
Originally published on 07/06/17 00:00
The world No.1 withstood an early attacking-onslaught from his Japanese opponent before turning the contest around and bagging his first top 10 win in four months.
Murray, into his 21st Grand Slam semi-final, will play Stan Wawrinka in the last four for a second consecutive year at Roland Garros.
Nishikori came roaring out the traps with a clear gameplan. The talented Japanese ballstriker orchestrated play with his powerful groundstrokes and the top seed was left exposed. The first set was pocketed by the No.8 seed for the concession of just two games.
Murray had been under the cosh in the opening set but he altered his approach at the start of the next. He upped the pace on his groundstrokes and began to wrestle control of the baseline exchanges. In contrast, Nishikori’s purple patch had come to an end and his forehand was leaking errors.
The third set was the most competitive of the match. Murray went a break ahead twice, but on each occasion Nishikori responded immediately and a tiebreak was called into action. It seemed certain that the breaker would be a tight and tense affair however the Japanese made a hatful of unforced-errors and lost it without winning a single point.
Nishikori was resilient in the early stages of the fourth set and he secured a quick break of serve, however Murray was in no mood to become engaged in a protracted affair. The world No.1 reeled off six games in a row to end the French Open hopes of his spirited opponent.
“I had to put a little more pace on my shots,” said the Wimbledon champion. “He [Nishikori] was dictating all of the points in the first set and making me move a lot. Obviously it’s quite windy today so the timing was a little bit difficult but once I started to get into a better rhythm I was able to keep him further away from the baseline – and that made a big difference.”
Wawrinka romped into the last four of his favourite event with a thumping 6-3 6-3 6-1 win over Marin Cilic. The Swiss has now won 12 of 14 meetings with the Croatian and he is the oldest male to reach the semi-finals since Jimmy Connors in 1975.
Wawrinka went through his full repertoire of shots as he thrilled the spectators on the Suzanne Lenglen Court. Cilic battled gamely, but his forehand let him down.
The 2015 winner said: “I didn't expect that score, but I was confident with my game. I knew he was playing good, but I’ve been confident with what I have been doing since the beginning of the tournament. I think I know how to play him – today was a perfect match for me from the beginning.”