Nishikori Sets Paire SF Clash – ATP World Tour

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Kei Nishikori overcame a stern challenge in the first set before finishing strongly in a 7-5, 6-0 victory over Alexandr Dolgopolov in the quarter-finals of the Barcelona Open BancSabadell on Friday.

The second-seeded Japanese star fended off four set points as he served at 4-5 in the first set, before reeling off the final nine games of the match to seal victory in 80 minutes.

“I’m happy about today’s victory,” said Nishikori. “Alex is a tough rival, who serves really well and is difficult to read.”

Nishikori is looking to three-peat at this ATP World Tour 500 clay-court tournament and improved to a 13-match win streak at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona-1899. The 26 year old defeated Santiago Giraldo in the 2014 final and retained his title in 2015 with victory over Pablo Andujar.

Nishikori is chasing his second title of the season after victory in Memphis in February (d. Fritz). He is coming off a runner-up showing at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Miami (l. to Djokovic) and has a 22-6 record in 2016.

Nishikori goes on to face Benoit Paire, who reached his third ATP World Tour semi-final of the season as he defeated Malek Jaziri 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.

The sixth-seeded Frenchman clinched a tight second set with a break of serve in the 12th game, capitalising on his third set point to level the match. From there it was a sprint to the finish, with Paire breaking in the second and sixth games of the decider to prevail in two hours.

Paire has won his past two meetings with Nishikori (2-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head record), with a five-set victory in the 2015 US Open first round, followed by a three-set win in the Tokyo semi-finals.

“I lost against Paire twice last year and he is also a great player and I am sure it is going to be tough,” said Nishikori. “I think I am a little bit better than last year and it is going to be a different game on clay.”

After semi-final showings in Chennai (l. to Wawrinka) and Marseille (l. to Cilic), Paire is bidding to reach his fifth ATP World Tour final (1-3 record). The 26 year old won his lone title on clay in Bastad last year (d. Robredo).

Nishikori Sets Paire SF Clash – ATP World Tour