ATP Miami: Kei Nishikori Defeats Gael Monfils In Three Sets

Kei Nishikori needed three sets to defeat Frenchman Gael Monfils 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) to book his place in the Miami Open semifinals. He will play Nick Kyrgios, who overcame Milos Raonic in straights. 

Monfils Wins Opening Set

In the opening game of the set, Monfils had break points with Nishikori hitting a forehand in the net to hand the Frenchman the early lead. In the following game, Monfils consolidated the break and went up 2-0 in the set. With the score at 2-1, Nishikori broke to love and got the match back on serve. The Japanese couldn't consolidate and Monfils broke again to love for a 3-2 lead. He would hold serve in the next game to take a 4-2 advantage. With the opener at 5-4 in his favor, the 29-year-old would serve for the set. On his first set point, Monfils hit a shot over baseline. On his second, he made sure that he served it out by hitting an ace down the middle. 

Gael Monfils returns a shot to Kei Nishikori during the Miami Open (Photo:Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Gael Monfils returns a shot (Photo:Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Nishikori Fights Back In Set Two

Kei Nishikori and Gael Monfils both held their opening service games to start the set. Nishikori would then break on his second break chance of the game, as he went 3-1 up. The 6th seed looked in good shape to get back on level terms in the match. The 26-year old Japanese consolidated the break and took control of the set at 4-1. Both players continued to hold their serves and as the set was coming to an end, Nishikori had the chance to close it out.  Monfils would hit a backhand long as Nishikori took the set 6-3 on his first set point. 

Nishikori Sends Third Set to Tiebreaker

The third set started with two service holds to get the crucial set on the way. In the following game, Monfils surrendered serve and Nishikori broke through to grab the lead. Nishikori held his serve and went up 3-1 in the decider. That did not last. Monfils would bring the crowd to life with a break of serve to get to 4-4. The world number 16 would then hold for a 5-4 lead. In the next game, Monfils found himself with three match points, but the Japanese dug in and saved them all to take it to deuce. Monfils had his fourth match point at advantage and Nishikori once again stood firm to win the point. Nishikori finally held to push the score to 5-5.

Monfils had his fifth match point, leading 6-5 with Nishikori fighting hard to save another match point. The 6th seed held and the set went to a tiebreaker. The world number six won the breaker 7-3 and booked his spot in the semifinal. The breakthrough came at 4-3, when Monfils attempted a drop shot that hit the net. From then on, the 26-year old man from Japan couldn't be caught. 

Kei Nishikori shakes hands at the net after his three set victory against Gael Monfils in their quarter final match during the Miami Open (Photo:Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Kei Nishikori shakes hands at the net after his three set victory against Gael Monfils (Photo:Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Stats

Nishikori hit three aces and had three double faults, while Monfils hit 14 aces and tallied four double faults. The Japanese won 65 percent of first serves. Monfils had major success on his first serve, winning 80 percent of the points. Nishikori won 55 percent of his second serve points, but Monfils struggled, winning only 35 percent. Nishikori saved 66 percent of the break points he faced, with Monfils saving only 25 percent. Nishikori broke three out of four times, while Monfils could only break three out of nine times. The win pushed Nishikori to 2-0 all-time against Monfils, with their last meeting coming in 2014 in Halle.

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