Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lopez, 33, upsets Nishikori to reach BNP quarters

Feliciano Lopez, ranked a career-high No. 12, slugs
a forehand in his victory over No. 5 Kei Nishikori.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   INDIAN WELLS -- Feliciano Lopez is playing the best tennis of his career at the advanced age of 33.
   The Spaniard, ranked a career-high No. 12, took out No. 5 Kei Nishikori 6-4, 7-6 (2) today to reach the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open for the first time in his 13 appearances.
   Lopez, a 6-foot-2 (1.88-meter) left-hander, blasted 12 aces in the 95-minute match. Nishikori, the U.S. Open runner-up last September, played in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open for the first time. 
   "I had one bad game at 5-4 (in the first set)," the 25-year-old Japanese star lamented. "Until then, I was playing better. He was hitting good serves, but I had all the chances. But just one bad game at 5-4 -- I think that's all that matters in today's match."
   Lopez will meet fourth-seeded Andy Murray, who lost to Rafael Nadal in the windy 2009 final, in the quarters. The other quarterfinal in the top half of the draw will be No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic against No. 12 Bernard Tomic of Australia. In the bottom half, No. 2 Roger Federer will play No. 9 Tomas Berdych, and No. 3 Nadal will face No. 6 Milos Raonic.
   Djokovic and Federer eliminated the last remaining U.S. men in singles. Djokovic held off No. 18 John Isner 6-4, 7-6 (5), in the second match of the night session, and Federer dismissed Jack Sock 6-3, 6-2 in 69 minutes in the last match of the day session.   
Nishikori played in the fourth round at Indian Wells for the
first time. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Isner defeated Djokovic, 7-6 in the third set, in the 2012 semifinals at Indian Wells before losing to Federer in the final.
   The 33-year-old Federer, who owns a record four singles titles at Indian Wells, earned his 50th career victory in the tournament today.
   Still, it was an encouraging tournament for Sock, 22. Playing in his first tournament of the year after undergoing hip surgery in mid-December, he reached the fourth round of an ATP Masters 1000 tournament, the highest level other than the Grand Slams, for the first time.
   Tomic, also 22, outlasted 18-year-old countryman Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
   Kokkinakis was trying to become the eighth teenager (since 1987) to reach the Indian Wells quarterfinals. Four of the others are in the International Tennis Hall of Fame (Boris Becker, Andre Agassi, Michael Chang and Jim Courier), and the other three will be (Nadal, Djokovic and Murray).
   Meanwhile, top-ranked Serena Williams and third-seeded Simona Halep advanced to a semifinal meeting.
   Williams defeated 27th-seeded Timea Bacsinszky 7-5, 6-3 to end the Swiss player's winning streak at 15 matches. Halep topped 12th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 to moved into the Indian Wells semis for the second straight year.
   The other two women's semifinalists will be determined on Thursday. No. 15 seed and defending champion Flavia Pennetta, another 33-year-old, of Italy will face No. 24 Sabine Lisicki of Germany. No. 18 Jelena Jankovic, the 2010 champion, will meet qualifier Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine.

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