Top seed seeking his second ATP Tour title of the season

Kei Nishikori stretched the best start of his career on Thursday, beating Latvian Ernests Gulbis 6-1, 6-4 to reach the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament quarter-finals in Rotterdam.

The top-seeded Japanese improved to 10-1 on the season, with his only loss coming in the Australian Open quarter-finals against eventual champion Novak Djokovic. Nishikori will next face Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, who beat Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 7-6(1), 6-1.

“Today was pretty good… so much better than the first match, for sure,” Nishikori said. “It wasn’t easy… but I think I did really well.”

Gulbis reached the Rotterdam semi-finals in 2014 (l. to Del Potro), but the Latvian was smothered by Nishikori’s aggressive play. Nishikori won the first 12 points of the match and later led 5-0, behind two breaks of serve.

Gulbis slightly recovered in the second, earning a break in the sixth game. But Nishikori broke for the fourth and final time in the ninth game.

Basilashvili, who relies on ruthless hitting, had an off day against Fucsovics, hitting 40 unforced errors, including 23 from his forehand. Fucsovics, meanwhile, was steady, especially in the second set, when he lost only one point behind his first serve (9/10).


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