Saturday, November 5, 2011

Nishikori to face Djokovic in Basel semifinals

   So, coaching guru Brad Gilbert, got any advice for Kei Nishikori entering his match today against Novak Djokovic?
   Play out of your mind?
   Grow three inches and put on 25 pounds?
   Hope Djokovic sprains his ankle getting out of his courtesy car?
   Pray a lot?
   Nishikori, a wild card coached by San Rafael's Gilbert, outlasted lucky loser Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in two hours, 40 minutes to reach the semifinals of the $2.6 million Swiss Indoors in Basel. The 5-foot-10, 150-pound Nishikori will take on the top-ranked Djokovic, who beat Marcos Baghdatis 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.
   In the other semifinal, third-seeded Roger Federer will face fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka. Federer, a four-time champion of his hometown tournament, improved to
21-2 against seventh-seeded Andy Roddick with a 6-3, 6-2 victory.
   Nishikori, 21, is having the best year of his career. The highest-ranked Japanese player in history at No. 32, he has reached three semifinals in his last four tournaments.
  "It's a great feeling to reach three semifinals in six weeks," Nishikori said on the ATP World Tour's Web site. "I knew it was going to be a tough week. Beating Tomas Berdych in the first round and getting to the semifinals has been a great experience."
   Djokovic, of course, is having one of the greatest years in tennis history. He's
67-3 with three Grand Slam titles -- the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open -- and 10 overall.
   "Djokovic is playing unbelievable this year," Nishikori said. "He doesn't have many weaknesses, so I will need to play a bit more aggressive than usual and play my best tennis to beat him."
   Good luck with that, Kei. 
   Djokovic is 1-0 against Nishikori, winning 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 in the second round of last year's French Open.
   Today's match will be televised live on Tennis Channel at 6:30 a.m. PDT.
   Querrey loses -- Unseeded Sam Querrey, a San Francisco native, lost to sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro 6-2, 7-5 in the quarterfinals of the $2.85 million Valencia (Spain) Open.
   The 6-6 Querrey reached the semifinals of the Sacramento Challenger and the final of the Tiburon Challenger last month, falling to 6-10 Ivo Karlovic each time.
   Top seeds and former Stanford All-Americans Bob and Mike Bryan reached the doubles semifinals with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over unseeded Frantisek Cermak and Filip Polasek.
    Ilyushin advances -- Artem Ilyushin, a Mississippi State senior from the swanky Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay, brushed aside Peter Heller 6-2, 6-2 in a quarterfinal matchup of unseeded players in the $10,000 Bluewater Bay Professional Tournament in Niceville, Fla. 
   Cal's Juricova upset -- Washington's Denise Dy, a San Jose resident seeded 5-8, ousted Cal's Jana Juricova, the top seed and reigning NCAA champion, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships at the USTA-Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Dy will meet unseeded Marta Lesniak of SMU in the semifinals. Lesniak surprised fourth-seeded Mallory Burdette of Stanford 6-3, 6-1.
   In the other semifinal, second-seeded Nicole Gibbs of Stanford will face Joanna Mather of Florida.
   Burdette and Gibbs, meanwhile, reached the doubles semifinals as the top seeds.
   The only Bay Area player in the men's singles field, unseeded Ryan Thacher of Stanford, lost in the second round to fifth-seeded Henrique Cunha of Duke 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. 
   However, fourth-seeded Nick Andrews and Christoffer Konigsfeldt of Cal will play second-seeded Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola of Ohio State today in the doubles semifinals. Andrews lives in the Sacramento suburb of Folsom.

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