MEMPHIS, February 11, 2016
Three time champion Kei Nishikori started his quest for a fourth consecutive title at the $693,425 Memphis Open on Wednesday. The world number 7 from Japan extended his winning streak in Tennessee to 14, when he defeated Ryan Harrison a third consecutive time. Nishikori won 81% of his first service points and converted four of his seven break point chances to seal a 6-2, 7-5 victory, reaching the quarterfinals in one hour and 21 minutes.
“I actually played very good, very solid today. The last two games were a bit of a struggle. Usually I struggle the first couple of rounds here so this has been the best start so far,” Nishikori told afterwards.
Nishikori will take on Mikhail Kukushkin next. The 28-year-old from Kazakhstan beat with fifht seed Denis Kudla one of eight US-American ranked inside the top 100, winning 6-4, 7-5 in one hour and 21 minutes. Kukushkin has reached the stage of the final eight for the first time this season.
“We just played in Brisbane and it was two sets but they were tough ones,” Nishikori said. “He’s always a tough player. In these slower conditions there’s going to be many long rallies.”
The tournament’s number four Sam Querrey, who is playing in Memphis for the ninth consecutive year, defeated Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen 6-3, 6-4. The 28-year-old US-American hit seven aces and capitalized on three of his seven break point opportunities to prevail in only 52 minutes.
Querrey will face another qualifier in the quarterfinals, as Yoshihito Nishioka ousted Illya Marchenko, winning 6-1, 6-3. In the pair’s first tour meeting, the 20-year-old leftie from Japan didn’t face a break point, converting four of his own to reach the stage of the final eight after one hour and 11 minutes for the second time in his career. Last year, Nishioka lost in the quarterfinals at Delray Beach to Bernard Tomic.