ESPN/ATP World Tour:
Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese man in more than 80 years to reach the quarterfinals at the French Open as he breezed past Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Japanese star has yet to drop a set in his four matches in Paris over the past week and is the first Japanese man to reach the quarter-finals since Jiro Satoh, a semi-finalist in 1931 and 1933.
Fifth seed Nishikori produced a string of 40 winners to beat the No. 74-ranked Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in one hour and 58 minutes. He will next challenge No. 14 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who defeated fourth seed Tomas Berdych in four sets.
“I hope it’s just the start of my journey, and I hope I can keep going,” said Nishikori. “This is first time for me in the quarter-finals, so it means a lot for me.
“It always means a lot to make history. Especially for Japanese, Asian [players] the clay is not the best surface for us. Now I’m trying to make the new step. I hope I can keep going like this on clay courts.”
Nishikori has a 4-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Tsonga. Their quarter-final clash will be their first clay-court meeting.
“We haven’t played a long time,” said Nishikori, looking ahead to the Tsonga match. “He’s coming back very strong. He has a big serve [and] big forehand. He’s always a dangerous player… So it’s going to be fun match.”