CLASS! Kei Nishikori Overcomes Lloyd Harris to Reach His First Semifinals Since April 2019 at Citi Open 2021

Published 08/06/2021, 9:11 PM EDT
Aug 6, 2021; Washington, DC, USA; Kei Nishikori of Japan celebrates after a play against Lloyd Harris of South Africa (not pictured) during the Citi Open at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports


Injury woes and the pandemic outbreak kept Kei Nishikori away from tennis most of the 2020 season. However, the Japanese star had a positive comeback in 2021, but only waiting for good results. Ultimately, his work paid off as he reached his first semifinal at Citi Open 2021 after Barcelona Open in 2019. The final score read, 6-3, 7-5.

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So far, the former World No.4 had outclassed Sam Querry, Alexander Bublik, and Cameron Norrie in Washington, DC. But now, he needed to steer past Rafael Nadal-conquerer Lloyd Harris to make it into the last four.

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Kei Nishikori takes Set 1 in 44 minutes at Citi Open 2021 QF

Probably his strongest start of the year, 2015 Citi Open champion Nishikori quickly scaled a 4-0 lead in the opening set. As he returned with an additional fervor, Harris could not find a hold.

Aug 6, 2021; Washington, DC, USA; Kei Nishikori of Japan hits a backhand against Lloyd Harris of South Africa (not pictured) during the Citi Open at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Afterward, the 24-year-old Harris saw off two breakpoints, denying the Japanese star a 5-0 lead. Seemingly, a successful hold provided him some much-needed relief to turn the pressure towards the 31-year-old Nishikori.

The South African then recovered a break and consolidated it with his second service hold. At 4-3, a slightly under pressure Nishikori gave out a flying smash to regain his momentum.

Following that, Harris needed to hold to stay in the set, serving at 5-3. Although he saved two set points, the Japanese force was too strong for him to contain. As a result, he lost the first set 6-3.

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Nishikori reaches his first semifinal of 2021 in Washington

As the second set began, nerves settled down between the two. Consequently, both Nishikori and Harris turned their focus on holding their service games.

Aug 6, 2021; Washington, DC, USA; Kei Nishikori of Japan reacts against Lloyd Harris of South Africa (not pictured) during the Citi Open at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Further ahead, at 3-2, the Japanese scraped three break opportunities, helping his opponent level the score at 3-3. Subsequently, both the players saved one break point each to bring the set at 4-4.

Next up, Nishikori asked Harris to complete the most important task: to serve and stay alive in the tournament. In response, the South African saved a match point to keep himself in the battle.

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Nearing the conclusion of this epic quarterfinal, the Japanese hurdled two break points to keep his service lead. Eventually, the fourth match point proved lucky for Nishikori as he closed the battle at 6-3, 7-5.

In the semifinal, Nishikori will take on either Mackenzie McDonald or Denis Kudla. On the other side of the draw, 19-year-old Jannik Sinner and 20-year-old Jenson Brooksby will battle for a place in the final.

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Purav Joshi

1134 articles

Purav Joshi is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having a degree in Films, Television and Media Production, he guided his passion for writing and journalism into the sport of aces and rallies. With over 2 years of experience as a copywriter, Purav has authored over 500 tennis articles.

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