Kei Nishikori came back from the dead to book a quarterfinal berth in the Aircel Chennai Open after a bizarre three-set win over Colombian Alejandro Falla on Thursday.
The Japanese, who accounted for defending champion Marin Cilic in the first round, was down 4-6, 0-3 before he turned things around, running away with nine straight games, inclusive of the second set.
The decider began strangely, on Falla's serve, as the umpire muddled up the points to hand the Japanese the first game, when the Colombian would have been its rightful recipient.
Obviously short-changed, the southpaw took it out on his racquet, smashing the implement no less than six times on the court to leave it mangled.
Down a double break soon, Falla made no pretences of being interested in the match, although he reduced the gap by cracking Nishikori's serve in the fourth game.
The Japanese recorded another break, in the seventh game, completing a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory in two hours and three minutes.
“When it was deuce he (Falla) thought he had won the game. If it was my situation I would have gone crazy too.
“He gave away some deliberate points, but I do that sometimes too,” said Nishikori, who will meet sixth-seeded Janko Tipsarevic in the quarterfinal.
Tipsarevic did not face a single breakpoint in his 6-2, 7-6(3) win over qualifier Alexandre Kudryavtsev, while converting three of the five he claimed on the Russian's serve.
The Serbian took the first set courtesy of breaks in the fourth and eighth game, but had to negotiate a tie-breaker in the second as Kudryavtsev gained control of his shots.
The Russian played 30 minutes of attractive, swinging tennis in the second set, but erred on the third point of the tie-breaker, his double-handed backhand lurching beyond the baseline to hand Tipsarevic a mini-break.
Things progressed on serve thereafter and that was the end of that; 7-3 to the Serb in the ‘breaker, as another Kudryavtsev backhand flew long.
Robin Haase, the eighth seed, also made the quarterfinals after rallying to win against Japan's Yuichi Sugita. With the players deadlocked on a set apiece, nothing appeared to disturb the state of stagnation as breaks were exchanged to begin the decider.
Fortunately for Haase, a flurry of errors from Sugita gifted him an extra break in the seventh game, and the Dutchman was too professional to have squandered it from there.
Meanwhile, the second-seeded Indo-Pak alliance of Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi was shunted out of the tournament following a 4-6, 5-7 quarterfinal defeat at the hands of Haase and David Martin. A single break of the Bopanna serve saw the first set to its conclusion, and the Indian pair was down 1-3 in the second when their temporary revival began.
The duo clawed back to 4-4, but another break, this time of Qureshi's serve, in the 11th game, ensured the Asian pair's exit from the event, leaving Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi as the last Indian representatives in the fray.
Paes, who skipped promotional activities on Thursday due to a mild fever, and Bhupathi, who returned from a personal visit to Mumbai, are scheduled to play their quarterfinal on Friday.
Second round: Janko Tipsarevic (Srb) bt Alexandre Kudryatvsev (Rus) 6-2, 7-6(3); Robin Haase (Ned) bt Yuichi Sugita (Jpn) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4; Kei Nishikori (Jpn) bt Alejandro Falla (Col) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Doubles: Quarterfinals: Marin Cilic & Ivan Dodig (Cro) bt Sanchai Ratiwatana & Sonchat Ratiwatana (Tha) 6-2, 6-4; Robin Haase & David Martin (US) bt Rohan Bopanna (Ind) & Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi (Pak) 6-4, 7-5.
Keywords: Aircel Chennai Open