Kei Nishikori . PHOTO: Alejandro PAGNI / AFP

Kei Nishikori sent out the top seed and home favourite Dominic Thiem 6/3.

The fifth seeded Kei served first and held. Thiem suffered a break of serve and his opponent held the third game. The Austrian led 40-30 in the fourth game but was taken to deuce. The advantage went to the Japanese and an exchange of shots ended in a netted forehand by Thiem. Nishikori held his service game to reach 5-0.

When Thiem won the first point on his serve in the sixth game, the partisan crowd applauded and he proceeded to win the game with an ace. With hops rising, the top seed broke Nishikori’s serve easily and won the eighth game at love. Nishikori fell behind 0-40 on serve but clawed his way back to deuce and clinched the game and set 6-3.

Thiem double-faulted twice to concede an early break in the opening game of the second set. He also opened the third game with a double fault and Nishikori sped to a 4-0 lead. As in the frist set, Thiem woke up and took the fifth game.

However, it was a surge too late; as Kei held serve to lead 5-1. In the sixth game, Thiem was up 30-0 but his opponent leveled at 30-all. As happened throughout the match, Thiem missed his first serve and Nishikori jumped on a weaker second delivery to reach 30-40 match point. The fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori clinched the next point for the match and moved into the semi-finals.

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