Defending champ Zverev beats Nishikori as Murray pulls out


Aug 5, 2018-

Defending champion Alexander Zverev outlasted Japan’s Kei Nishikori 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 on Friday to reach the ATP Washington Open semi-finals while three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray withdrew citing fatigue.

Germany’s third-ranked Zverev, seeking his fifth final of the season and third title of the year after Munich and Madrid, dispatched seventh-seed Nishikori, the 2015 champion, as he did in last year’s Washington semi-finals. Zverev booked a semi-final match against 10th-seeded Greek 19-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas, who eliminated Belgian third seed David Goffin 6-3, 6-4.

Australian Alex De Minaur, another 19-year-old, reached the semi-finals by walkover when Murray withdrew, citing the fatigue of three grueling three-set wins that kept him on the court more than eight hours in total. Murray, who also withdrew from next week’s Toronto Masters event, was in only his third event back and first hardcourt event since March 2017 at Indian Wells after an 11-month layoff with a hip injury.

“I’m exhausted after playing so much over the last four days, having not competed on the hard courts for 18 months,” Murray said. The 31-year-old Scotsman, a former world No 1 now ranked 832, broke down in tears after a 3:02am on Friday finish to his third match, the latest finish in the event’s history.

De Minaur will next play either Russian 16th seed Andrey Rublev or American Denis Kudla. If 20-year-old Rublev advances, Zverev will be the oldest semi-finalist at age 21. His reaction: “My God, that hasn’t happened to me before.”

Tsitsipas, ranked a career-high 32nd, reached the fourth round last month at Wimbledon, becoming the first Greek player in the last 16 of a Grand Slam in the Open Era. Tsitsipas, who reached his first ATP final in May at Barcelona but lost to Rafael Nadal, says he won’t change to face Zverev. Zverev and Tsitsipas are both of Russian heritage. Zverev’s Russian parents moved to Germany in 1991. Tsitsipas’s mother was a top 1980s Soviet Union player.

Nishikori likes where his game is at with the US Open still more than three weeks away. In the WTA event, Germany’s Andrea Petkovic, seeking her seventh title and first since 2015, downed Swiss sixth seed Belinda Bencic 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (10/8) to reach the semi-finals. She earlier beat reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens.

Published: 05-08-2018 08:30

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