Murray aims to deliver KO punch to Nishikori

Briton Andy Murray throws a punch in celebration after defeating Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in straight sets to book a place in the US Open quarter-finals.
Briton Andy Murray throws a punch in celebration after defeating Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in straight sets to book a place in the US Open quarter-finals. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • Andy Murray contests his sixth US Open quarter-final today looking to maintain his stranglehold over Kei Nishikori and take a step closer to a dream title showdown with Novak Djokovic.

The Scot won the first of his three Grand Slams at the US Open in 2012 and will be the favourite to make a fourth semi-final at the season's last Grand Slam.

The world No. 2 has a 7-1 record against Nishikori, whose only win over the Briton came at the World Tour Finals in 2014.

This year, Murray came out on top in five sets to help steer Britain past Japan in the Davis Cup before cantering to a straight sets win in the Olympics semi-finals.

All in all, Murray is on a 26-1 run since losing the French Open final to Djokovic in June, collecting the Queen's Club, Wimbledon and Olympic titles on the way.

But he will not underestimate the threat posed by Nishikori, who made the final in New York in 2014 after knocking out Djokovic in the semi-finals.

"He played some good stuff at the Olympics and won the bronze," said Murray who reached the quarter-finals with a brutal dismissal of Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.

"I played a really good match against Kei in Rio and I'll need to do that again if I want to beat him, because he's one of the best players in the world, plays extremely well on hard court."

Djokovic targets a 10th successive US Open semi-final appearance this morning (Singapore time), when he faces long-time rival Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.

Today's other quarter-final sees 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro, ranked at No. 142 but on the comeback trail after three wrist surgeries, tackle third seed Stan Wawrinka.

The giant Argentinian, the lowest-ranked quarter-finalist in 25 years, has a 4-2 head-to-head record over the Swiss, including an impressive victory at Wimbledon earlier this year.

However, the two have never met on hard courts. The quarter-final has been dubbed as a battle between del Potro's hammer of a forehand and Wawrinka's precision backhand.

"It's going to be good challenge to play against him," said two-time Major champion Wawrinka, who is in his fourth straight US Open quarter-final. "It's going to be important to try to dictate and be aggressive on the court."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2016, with the headline 'Murray aims to deliver KO punch to Nishikori'. Print Edition | Subscribe