Tennis

Nishikori, Lopez in Memphis final

Kei Nishikori is a Sunday win shy of his third career title and first since October.
Share This Story

   
 

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)

Kei Nishikori was walking past Marinko Matosevic, ready to switch ends after winning the first set 6-4. The Australian stopped him near the umpire's chair.

Matosevic couldn't continue, not with a bone bruise in his right foot making each step simply too painful.

Matosevic retired 37 minutes into his semifinal against Nishikori on Saturday, sending the Japanese player to the final of the US National Indoor Championships. Nishikori called the quick end surprising because he didn't know Matosevic was injured.

''He was playing really well from the beginning and he broke my serve in the beginning 2-love,'' Nishikori said. ''He was playing well, I thought. So I didn't think about he was retiring. Yeah, he's playing well this week. ... Things happen. But yeah, lucky for me to play just one set and feel fresh for tomorrow so I think it's good.''

On Sunday, Nishikori will face Feliciano Lopez of Spain, a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 winner over Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan. Lopez will be seeking his third title in his eighth career ATP final after a match he thought he had won with an ace — even preparing to shake hands with the chair umpire — only to replay the point because of a let ruling.

''In the old times, we had one guy on the net with a finger,'' Lopez said. ''I don't know if it's more accurate or not. The system now with the machine you never know when it's real let or not.''

Marina Erakovic of New Zealand won her first singles title Saturday night when Sabine Lisicki of Germany retired because of an illness in the last women's final in Memphis. The women's event, held in Memphis since 2002, is moving to Rio de Janeiro in 2013.

Erakovic lost this final to Sofia Arvidsson last year, and she took the first set Saturday night 6-1 in 27 minutes. During the break, Lisicki sat down and realized she couldn't continue.

"I just didn't have any energy left in the tank," Lisicki said.

Andy Murray and Kim Sears

BETTER TOGETHER

Want to know who supports the best players in the game? Check out these tennis wives and girlfriends.

Erakovic looked almost disappointed. The winner of seven doubles titles said she didn't realize Lisicki had been ill so she was shocked when the German retired and reacted as if on auto-pilot until she was handed the guitar-shaped trophy.

"I've dreamed of winning WTA titles when I was little and for it to happen, I can just describe it as happiness and relief. Now it's been three finals and to win one, I just want to do a little dance."

Nishikori will be looking for his third career title and first since winning in Tokyo last October. That's when he became the first Japanese player to win on home soil in that tournament's 40-year history.

The top Asian player in the ATP rankings at No. 22, the fifth-seeded Nishikori was the only seed to advance out of the quarterfinals here after he ousted top-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia.

''It's a tough tournament here, so I understand anything happens,'' Nishikori said.

Matosevic had been experiencing pain in his right foot since January. The pain reached a new level Friday night after beating Alexandr Dolgopolov in three sets. Matosevic iced his foot for a few hours and found that even walking to a grocery store across from his hotel was painful.

The Aussie, the ATP's most improved player in 2012 as he jumped from No. 201 in 2011 to 49th, still tried to make it through his third appearance in an ATP semifinal.

Matosevic took the doughnut-shaped pad protecting his foot off before the match and led 2-0 before Nishikori broke back. Nishikori broke Matosevic again to go up 4-3. Matosevic then called for a trainer, who doubled up the padding on the Aussie's right foot. That simply made it too awkward.

Sean Connery is pumped

RIGHT ON!

Sean Connery is fired up about the US Open. And he is pretty hyped about these things, too.

All on a day when the tennis ball looked as big as a basketball to the Aussie, and Matosevic felt good except when Nishikori forced him to move to his left or right chasing down volleys.

''It's tough,'' Matosevic said. ''I definitely felt like I could've won today, and then the bottom half, all the seeds dropping out, Istomin, Lopez, it feels like a big missed opportunity.''

Nishikori served out and won the set in 37 minutes. Matosevic then retired. So Nishikori spent five more minutes hitting some balls just to get some practice in before the final.

''It's good that I'm fresh,'' Nishikori said.

Lopez, whose last semifinal came in Beijing last October, reached his first final since Belgrade in May 2011. A machine may have forced him to play on to finish off his win, but the Hawkeye replay kept him alive in the first game of the third set.

He needed only 23 minutes to take the first set against Istomin, who had not dropped a set in Memphis until Saturday. Istomin broke back in the fourth game to go up 3-1 in the second trying to reach his third career ATP final.

Lopez had to rally to hold serve after falling behind 0-40 to open the third set and thought Istomin had broken his serve with a great lob shot. But Lopez asked for the replay, which showed the ball was just out. With the reprieve, Lopez managed to hold serve and broke Istomin to go up 4-2.

The Spaniard thought he served up the match-clinching ace up 40-15. He even raised his arms in celebration and fans started to leave only to be ruled a let.

''I was feeling a little bit tight because I thought, `Oh my God. I already won the match,' and he just played an incredible shot ...,'' Lopez said. ''Then anything can happen to be honest.''

Lopez finally clinched the match with a 135-mph ace on his fourth match point.

''It was my second chance, and I tried to catch it,'' Istomin said. ''I going out for break point and I missed my return, but he was deserving. Good serve. He won.''

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



Tennis Videos

Djokovic tops Federer in five-set Wimbledon final Posted: Jul 06, 2014
Novak Djokovic captures his second Wimbledon title while denying Roger Federer a...

Dramatic Moments of the Week: 6/2-6/8 Posted: Jun 09, 2014
We count down the most dramatic moments from the week in sports, including the K...

Williams sisters bounced at Roland Garros Posted: May 28, 2014
Andy Roddick on Venus and Serena losing on the same day at the French Open.

Fox Sports Store