Mur­ray un­rav­els, Nishikori ad­vances

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS -

NEW YORK — Andy Mur­ray lost his way, seven con­sec­u­tive games and, even­tu­ally, his riv­et­ing fiveset U.S. Open quar­ter­fi­nal against Kei Nishikori after a loud noise from a mal­func­tion­ing sound sys­tem in­ter­rupted a key point, re­sult­ing in a do-over.

Whether the gong-like sound and chair um­pire Mar­ija Ci­cak’s let rul­ing was the rea­son Nishikori wound up com­ing back to win 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 on Wed­nes­day surely will be what’s most de­bated about the back-and-forth, 4-hour match.

After all, Mur­ray’s ex­tended dis­cus­sions with Ci­cak and an­other of­fi­cial about the un­usual episode came dur­ing a stretch in which he dropped 12 of 14 points.

He went from a lead of two sets to one, plus a break point at 1-all, to ced­ing the fourth set and trail­ing 2-0 in the fifth.

“I could have won the match for sure,” said Mur­ray, the No. 2 seed.

Mur­ray ac­knowl­edged a brief dip in play but pre- ferred to fo­cus on other rea­sons for al­low­ing the sixth-seeded Nishikori to reach a Grand Slam semi­fi­nal for the first time since he was the U.S. Open run­ner-up two years ago.

“I broke serve enough times,” Mur­ray said. “I just didn’t hold serve enough. That was the dif­fer­ence.”

De­spite all the fuss, Mur­ray went ahead 5-4 in the fifth. But he didn’t take an­other game. At 5-all, 30all, Mur­ray dou­ble-faulted to set up break point, and Nishikori con­verted by reach­ing for a stretch vol­ley win­ner.

“It was too ex­cit­ing on the court, but I tried to stay calm,” Nishikori said. “There were many ups and downs.”

In the women’s quar­ter­fi­nals, Ser­ena Wil­liams was bro­ken for the first time in the tour­na­ment and lost a set for the first time, but she got past No. 5 Si­mona Halep 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. On Thurs­day, Wil­liams faces 10th-seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Repub­lic, who reached the first ma­jor semi­fi­nal of her ca­reer by elim­i­nat­ing18-year-old Ana Kon­juh 6-2, 6-2.

AL BELLO/GETTY

Kei Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open run­ner-up, gets pumped up dur­ing his five-set up­set of No. 2 seed Andy Mur­ray.

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