Unseeded Fabio Fognini backed up his impressive performance against American Donald Young in the previous round to oust no.2 seed and last year’s runner up Kei Nishikori in straight sets in the quarter finals of the Miami Open on Wednesday.
World no. 4 Nishikori’s two prior three-set battles this week against 25th seed Fernando Verdasco and Argentinian Federico Delbonis, seemed to be finally taking its toll on the Japanese star and his ailing wrist in this lob-sided quarter-final. Fognini reeled off eight points in a row to break Nishikori for a 3-1 lead in the first set, showcasing his flashiest tennis to break Nishikori to love. The Italian then held easily for 4-1, with Nishikori’s forehand seeming to break down when put under pressure. The Japanese star attempted to keep the points shorts with an abundance of failed mid rally drop shots. Nishikori broke back however, to remain in touching distance at 4-5, though he couldn’t take advantage of this slight swing in momentum as Fognini broke immediately after to take the first set 6-4.
The Italian qualifier broke Nishikori’s first service game of the second set to go up 2-0 and despite being pegged back to deuce in his attempt to consolidate, eventually did so for a comfortable 3-0 lead. Nishikori did have some break point chances at 1-3 but Fognini held strong on serve to go up 4-1. The Italian took advantage of his opponents flagging self-belief with a further break of the Japanese stars serve for 5-1, but a series of poor shots from Fabio saw Nishikori break back immediately for 5-2. Nishikori couldn’t maintain the fightback in the next game with his injury impaired performance, when Fognini finished strongly by serving it out for his first win over Nishikori within three meetings with a 6-4 6-1 victory.
The last time an unseeded player reached the semi-finals of the Miami open was a decade ago when Argentine Guillermo Canas famously cut down Roger Federer in his path to the last four. Fabio Fognini will next face the winner of the next quarter finals between 5th seed Rafael Nadal and 13th seed Jack Sock.
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