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Kei Nishikori vs Radu Albot New York Open tennis live: Nishikori's comeback picking up steam ahead of New York quarter-finals

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 16 Feb 2018
  • Kei Nishikori vs Radu Albot is live from New York at 7.30pm local time on Friday (12.30am GMT, Saturday)
  • First meeting between the pair
Kei Nishikori (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Kei Nishikori continues on his quest for a first ATP World Tour title in two years when he takes on Radu Albot in the New York Open quarter-finals on Friday night.





With his comeback quickly gaining momentum, Kei Nishikori is targeting a first ATP World Tour title since Memphis in 2016 at the inaugural New York Open this week - the tournament that has replaced Memphis on the calendar. Nishikori hasn’t really been able to produce his best tennis since reaching the 2014 U.S. Open final, and things got worse last season as he was forced to shut down his year prematurely in order to undergo surgery on his wrist after the Canada Masters. But after returning at Challenger level last month, Nishikori is seemingly back to full fitness - can he make it past the diminutive Radu Albot, who is playing in just his second ATP quarter-final? Nishikori and Albot are scheduled on court at 7.30pm local time on Friday (12.30am GMT, Saturday).

Opting for the low-key and slightly strange return to competitive tennis on the second-tier Challenger Tour, Nishikori has been easing his way back into the sport for a few weeks now - and after a shaky start that resulted in a first round loss in Newport Beach to Dennis Novikov, the Japanese superstar looks like he is on his way back to the level he’s been consistently producing for almost a decade now.

Nishikori played another Challenger after Newport Beach, and this time he managed to outlast a bunch of hungry and determined lower-ranked players to capture the title - his first of any description in two years - grabbing some revenge over Novikov in the opening round before taking down Matthias Bachinger, Dominik Koepfer, Jason Jung and Mackenzie McDonald in the final.

Moving back onto the ATP World Tour this week, and Nishikori has continued to improve, advancing into the quarter-finals without dropping a set in convincing victories over wildcard Noah Rubin and Evgeny Donskoy - the man who around this time last season beat Roger Federer in Dubai. Nishikori only needed 65 minutes to move past the Russian, with the 28-year-old enjoying a superb serving day, winning 37/44 points behind his own delivery.


“I served really well, especially in the second set. I started getting my rhythm back and my first serve was working really well but also everything else was pretty solid today. I was playing aggressive and coming in,” Nishikori said. “Every match is improving. So far so good. I think today was one of the best again.”

Radu Albot (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Radu Albot meanwhile is continuing his love affair with New York this week. The Moldovan qualified for the U.S. Open last season and defeated Ernesto Escobedo and Yen-Hsun Lu to reach his first ever Grand Slam third round, with his run ending against Sam Querrey in four sets. Back in the Big Apple this week, and Albot has conquered two Americans en route to just his second ATP quarter-final, beating Bjorn Fratangelo in straight sets before chopping down the big-serving John Isner 7-6(5) 3-6 6-3. Isner, incredibly, served 28 aces in defeat, with Albot taking advantage of his only break point midway through the deciding set to emerge triumphant.

“Everybody knows that John has the best serve on tour. It's very difficult to return his serve. You just have to guess, be able to somehow put the ball in the court. You just don't know, you just react. If you put the ball in the court then you're in the game and then you try to create something,” Albot said.

Albot is one of those players that gets the most out of his limited resources, which is always to be respected, but he doesn’t have many big weapons, and that is his biggest obstacle in maintaining a consistent presence in the top 100. Nevertheless, after arriving at the U.S. Open last season at 138 in the world, Albot has managed to improve his ranking to a current mark of No. 91, helped by winning a Challenger in Shenzhen at the end of 2017 and reaching the final of another in Suzhou.

Nishikori and Albot have never played before, but you’ve got to think this is a great match-up for Albot. Nishikori isn’t going to be overpowered by the Moldovan and he should be able to get the better of most baseline exchanges if he repeats the sort of level he produced in his first two matches in New York. He’s still not at his best, but Nishikori is serving well and he should have too much class for Albot on Friday.


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Kei Nishikori vs Radu Albot New York Open tennis live: Nishikori's comeback picking up steam ahead of New York quarter-finals

Kei Nishikori continues on his quest for a first ATP World Tour title in two years when he takes on Radu Albot in the New York Open quarter-finals on Friday night.

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