A first time meeting between Japanese No. 1 Kei Nishikori and Finnish No. 1 Jarkko Nieminen is set to take place in the semi-final round of the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur.
Top seed Kei Nishikori had no trouble outworking Marinko Matosevic in the quarter-final round on Friday to close out the match 6-3, 6-0. The Japanese No. 1 dropped just 10 points on serve and converted 5 break points to close out the contest in 1 hour and 4 minutes.
“I was expecting a tough match,” said Nishikori. “He was playing really well, but I’ve been playing well and he was struggling a little bit, especially in the second set. I’m trying to step in more and take the ball early.”
Now two wins away from his first post-US Open title of the season, Nishikori will face Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen for a spot in the tournament final. He defeated seventh seed Pablo Andujar 6-3, 6-4 to score the victory. He also overcame an 0-4 deficit in the second set to reel off 6 consecutive games and finish the match.
“I tried to play it one point at a time at 0-4,” said Nieminen. “I started to play well again, but I didn’t expect to win six games in a row. I’ve felt good lately; I just haven’t had many wins. Yesterday I had one of my best matches of the season (against Leonardo Mayer) and that gave me confidence. I have the winning feeling again.”
This is the first time that Nishikori and Nieminen will cross paths on the professional tour and should be an encounter than heavily favours the US Open finalist. He outranks the Finnish competitor, has far more experience in the latter stages of tournaments, and is swelling with confidence from his recent string of success on the tour.
Prediction: Kei Nishikori in Straight Sets