Nishikori shocks Tsonga

2012-01-23 07:52

Melbourne - Kei Nishikori shocked former finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in five sets to become the first Japanese man into the Australian Open quarter-finals in 80 years on Monday.

The 24th seed dug deep to knock out sixth seed Tsonga, 2-6, 6-2, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in 3hr 30min in sweltering conditions on Hisense Arena.

It was Nishikori's second win over Tsonga after beating him in Shanghai last year and sets him up with a quarter-final against British fourth seed Andy Murray on Wednesday.

It is the first time a Japanese man has reached the last eight at the Australian Open since 1932, when there were two in the quarter-finals.

It was Nishikori's best result at a grand slam, surpassing his fourth round appearance at the 2008 US Open.

He also became only the second Japanese man to reach a grand slam quarter-final in the open era since Shuzo Matsuoka at Wimbledon in 1995.

"I was just playing one point at a time and it was not easy conditions today, Jo-Wilfried was playing well and I was just trying my best," Nishikori said.

"Hopefully it's big news in Japan. A lot of people have messaged me since my last win, so now it's a quarter-final and I'm really excited."

Nishikori broke Tsonga's serve six times and cashed in on Tsonga's 70 unforced errors, 40 of them on his big forehand.

His only ace in the match brought up three match points in the final game and he clinched victory with a running volley at the net.

Nishikori, seeded here for the first time at a grand slam, is the highest ranked Japanese man in ATP World Tour rankings history.

Tsonga said Nishikori proved a difficult opponent in the heat.

"When you have a guy in front of you who returns everything, even when you serve at 215 (kilometres per hour, 134 miles an hour), it puts lot of pressure on you," he said.

"It's tough to play against him because he runs a lot and everything's coming back."