Kei Nishikori is now confirmed to be in the world’s top 10 when the rankings are released on Monday, after beating Feliciano Lopez to reach the semi-finals of the Madrid Open on Friday evening.
The Japanese player will be the first man from his country to achieve the feat of being in the top 10 of the world rankings, and he reached the feat by defeating Lopez 6-4, 6-4.
There were some tense moments in the match for the 10th seed, as he had to save three break points, and one break in each of the two sets was enough to see off his Spanish opponent in 90 minutes, knocking Lopez out at the quarter-final stages in Madrid for the fourth time.
The victory for the 24-year-old prevented the semi-final line-up from being made up entirely of Spaniards, with Rafael Nadal, Roberto Bautista Agut and David Ferrer all having progressed through their quarter-final matches.
Ferrer will be facing Nishikori on Saturday, as he beat Latvian Ernests Gulbis 7-6, 6-3 earlier in the evening session.
Nishikori is showing some tremendous form on clay so far this year, and he has now won nine matches in a row, with his run to the last four following his tournament victory in Barcelona last week.
He came into Friday’s match with confidence, following victories over clay court specialist Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and eighth seed Milos Raonic in the previous two rounds, and he is yet to lose a set in the tournament.
The victory also meant that Nishikori will be the first Asian male player to make it into the top 10 of the rankings since Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand in 2004, passing his previous best ranking of 11, which he reached in June 2013.
It will be his first semi-final in Madrid, and an improvement on last year’s run to the quarter-finals will see him pass Richard Gasquet and John Isner to move into the top 10.
The match between Nishikori and Ferrer will be their seventh meeting, and history suggests there will be little to choose between them, as they stand at three wins apiece against each other so far.
Nishikori was the victor the last time they played, winning in three sets in the last 16 of the Miami Masters in March.
It is scheduled to be the second men’s match on the Manolo Santana court on Saturday, after the first semi-final between Nadal and Bautista Agut.
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