Nishikori Wins 2-day Five-setter, Djokovic Easily Advances Into QF

When it comes to the deciding set, count on Kei Nishikori.

The Japanese player won his eighth consecutive five-set match on Monday to defeat Benoit Paire 6-2, 6-7 (8), 6-2, 6-7 (8), 7-5 over two days and set up a quarterfinal against defending champion Rafael Nadal at the French Open.

In a match ridden with unforced errors, 15 breaks of serve, but also some beautiful shots, Nishikori prevailed after a nearly four-hour battle. Their fourth-round match had been suspended by darkness on Sunday, with Nishikori leading by two sets to one.

Japan’s Kei Nishikori is congratulated by France’s Benoit Paire, right, after winning his his fourth round match of the French Open tennis tournament in five sets, 6-2, 6-7 (8-10), 6-2, 6-7 (8-10), 7-5, at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Monday, June 3, 2019. 

Nishikori extended his impressive record in five-set matches to 23-6, including a 6-1 mark at the clay-court Grand Slam. He also holds the best percentage of wins in deciding sets (132-45) — either in best-of-five or best-of-three matches — since the Open Era began in 1968.

In damp conditions, Paire's all-risk tennis was working when they came back on court. The Frenchman saved two match points in the fourth-set tiebreaker and served for the match at 5-3, but he was finally made to rue his awful mistakes.

"He was serving for the match, and I just tried to play one point at a time," Nishikori said.

Paire hit 15 double-faults and 79 unforced errors.

"Never easy to finish a match," Paire said. "It was tough emotionally. I'm very sad to lose this match but glad for what I did this week."

Nishikori will play in a third quarterfinal in Paris but faces a tall order in the next round. Nadal has won 10 of their 12 previous matches, including all three on clay.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his fourth round match of the French Open tennis tournament against Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff in three sets, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Monday, June 3, 2019. 

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic had an easier time against 45th-ranked Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany, becoming the first man to reach the French Open quarterfinals 10 years in a row with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory. His quarterfinal opponent will be No. 5 Alexander Zverev or No. 9 Fabio Fognini.

Last year's runner-up, Dominic Thiem, ended French hopes of Roland Garros glory by ousting Gael Monfils, the last Frenchman remaining in the draw, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

Monfils had not dropped a set in his three previous matches but could not find an answer to his opponent's consistency. Thiem produced a superb winner in the third set when, after being dragged to the net, he chased a backhand toward the baseline and fired a winner between his legs.

"He was just stronger, he impressed me a lot today," Monfils said.

In the women's draw, Sofia Kenin and Katerina Siniakova could not follow up their upsets of Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka.

Kenin lost to eighth-seeded Ash Barty 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, while 14th-seeded Madison Keys advanced to the last eight for the second straight year with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Siniakova.

Keys and Barty will face off in the quarterfinals.

"It's going to be a tough one," said Keys, a semifinalist in Paris last year. "I feel like clay actually suits her game really well with her kick serve and slice."

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