Nishikori makes his mark in reaching last eight
Updated: 2015-06-01 09:43
PARIS - Kei Nishikori reached a landmark by qualifying for the French Open quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-4 6-2 win over unseeded Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili on Sunday but may just be getting started.
Kei Nishikori of Japan reacts during the men's singles match against Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, May 31, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
The fifth seed's success made it the first time a Japanese male player had reached the last eight at Roland Garros since Jiro Satoh made it to the semi-finals in 1931 and 1933.
"I think to come to the quarter-finals that's the first goal for these two weeks. I knew I could do this because I was doing well this claycourt season," Nishikori told a news conference.
"I hope it's just the start of my journey, and I hope I can keep going. This is the first time I am in the quarter-finals at the French Open, so it means a lot for me."
Nishikori had not struck a ball in anger since Wednesday's second round after his scheduled opponent Benjamin Becker of Germany pulled out injured.
But the U.S. Open runner-up looked in a hurry to get his challenge moving again, playing razor-sharp tennis in damp and heavy conditions to outclass a gritty Gabashvili.
"It always means a lot to make history. Especially for a Japanese, an Asian, (because) the clay is not the best surface for us," said Nishikori.
However, he entered the tournament with some strong clay court credentials, having won the Barcelona Open and reached the Madrid Masters semi-finals on the red dirt this season.
Nishikori will play Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after the 14th seed beat Czech fourth seed Tomas Berdych in four sets.
"We haven't played each other for a long time, maybe a couple of years. But he (Tsonga) was injured and he came back now and he's coming back very strong," said Nishikori.
"He has a big serve, big forehand. He's always a dangerous player. He's a top 10 player. So it's going to be a fun match."