Nishikori faces Zverev in semis; Halep quits
Washington, US - Top-ten rivals Kei Nishikori and Alexander Zverev advanced to a semifinal showdown at the ATP and WTA Citi Open on Friday while second-ranked Simona Halep retired with heat fatigue.
Ninth-ranked Nishikori, the 2015 champion on the Washington hardcourts, saved three match points in a tension-packed second set before rallying to beat 225th-ranked American 20 year old Tommy Paul 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 after two hours and 40 minutes.
"It was a great battle," Nishikori said. "He almost had it. Happy to win."
Zverev, a 20 year old German seeking his fourth ATP title of the year and ranked a career-high eighth, took only 57 minutes to eliminate Russia's Daniil Medvedev 6-2, 6-4.
"I felt so good from the start," Zverev said. "It was a great match for me. It's just all coming together now."
It will be the first career meeting between Nishikori and Zverev. "I'm sure it's going to be a tough match," Nishikori said. He has been playing really well."
"Kei has been in the top ten for a long time now," Zverev said. "He's going to be a tough test on the hardcourts."
The other semifinal sends US eighth seed Jack Sock - a 7-5, 64 winner over Canadian third seed Milos Raonic - against South African 15th seed Kevin Anderson, who blasted 21 aces to defeat 200th-ranked Indian qualifier Yuki Bhambri 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, after ousting top seed Dominic Thiem on Thursday.
A day after complaining that severe heat left her feeling "a bit dead," French Open runner-up Halep quit her quarterfinal match in even more scorching conditions, allowing Russian seventh seed Ekaterina Makarova to advance 2-6, 6-3, 1-0.
"It was just the heat. I felt a little bit sick and I couldn't continue," Halep said. "I had a headache and I felt sick."
Top seed Halep broke Makarova three times to take the first set in 30 minutes, but the Russian battled back to win the second set and broke to open the third before Halep retired.
"The sun took so much energy," Makarova said. "After the first set I started putting ice to my face because it was burning."
Halep, who defends her title next week in Toronto, played the day's first match three times this week, hitting the most humid and sweltering conditions. Organisers denied her request for a late match on Friday.
Next for Makarova is a semifinal against 20 year old French Oceane Dodin. The other semifinal pits Germans Julia Goerges and Andrea Petkovic.
Kei Nishikori in action against Tommy Paul on Friday