• Nishikori faces Petzschner, Troicki opens with Istomin

    9/28/11 6:25 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Nishikori faces Petzschner, Troicki opens with Istomin Kei Nishikori and Philipp Petzschner will battle for a quarterfinal spot on Thursday in Kuala Lumpur. Viktor Troicki and Denis Istomin are also in action.

    Philipp Petzschner vs. (8) Kei Nishikori

    Petzschner and Nishikori will be going head-to-head for the first time in their careers when they clash in the Malaysian Open second round on Thursday. Both players are in the midst of decent 2011 campaigns. Nishikori, who registers at No. 54 in the world rankings, owns a 26-17 record after overcoming Teymuraz Gabashvili 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 on Tuesday. The 21-year-old Japanese player finished runner-up in Houston and reached the Eastbourne semifinals.

    While he is well-off his career-ranking at 66th in the world, Petzschner is a respectable 22-19 for the year. The German endured a recent stretch of first-round losses, including last week in Metz to Gilles Muller, but he ousted countryman Mischa Zverev 7-5, 6-3 on Tuesday. Petzschner will have to serve big and use his backhand slice to keep Nishikori out of rhythm at the baseline. Only because of his surface advantage on indoor hard courts, Petzschner in three sets is the pick.

    Denis Istomin vs. (2) Viktor Troicki

    Istomin and Troicki will be squaring off for the second time in their careers at the ATP level when they battle for a quarterfinal spot in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. Their only previous main-draw encounter came last year on the hard courts of New Haven, where Istomin prevailed 7-6(10), 3-6, 6-2. Troicki, though, won a 2007 Moscow qualifying match 6-4, 6-3.

    While Istomin is a mere 12-21 on the ATP Tour this year after beating Marinko Matosevic on Wednesday, he is on fire in Challengers. The 61st-ranked Uzbek is coming off titles in consecutive weeks in Istanbul and Tashkent. Troicki is still an impressive 34-20 for his 2011 campaign and registers at a solid 15th in the world, but he is in a dismal funk right now. The second-seeded Serb has not won a match since the Montreal Masters. Don't be surprised if Istomin pulls off a three-set upset.

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