• Tipsarevic battles Nishikori for place in Kuala Lumpur final

    9/30/11 8:37 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Tipsarevic battles Nishikori for place in Kuala Lumpur final Familiar foes Janko Tipsarevic and Kei Nishikori will be squaring off in the Kuala Lumpur semifinals on Saturday. The winner will go up against either Viktor Troicki or Marcos Baghdatis for the title.

    Janko Tipsarevic and Kei Nishikori will be going head-to-head for the fifth time in their careers and for the fifth time this season when they collide in the Malaysian Open semifinals on Saturday.

    Tipsarevic is a perfect 4-0 in their previous encounters, including 2-0 on hard courts. The Serb prevailed in the Chennai quarterfinals, the Delray Beach semis, the Belgrade first round, and the Eastbourne semis. Only one went to three sets; Nishikori took the Belgrade showdown to a third-set tiebreaker but promptly lost it 7-0.

    This one could be their most entertaining match to date, with both men in stellar form. Tipsarevic is an awesome 42-20 for his 2011 campaign, which has him back up to No. 17 in the world--four spots off his career-high. He has sustained the momentum from a U.S. Open quarterfinal showing with wins in Kuala Lumpur over Flavio Cipolla and Nikolay Davydenko (the latter via retirement).

    Including qualifying (in Winston-Salem), Nishikori has won 10 of his last 12 matches. The world No. 54 is a solid 28-17 at the ATP main-draw level this season thanks to victories this week over Teymuraz Gabashvili, Philipp Petzschner, and top-seeded Nicolas Almagro. All three went to three sets and all three lasted more than two hours.

    The cards are stacked against Nishikori, as he has to fatigued and can't be feeling good about his recent history against Tipsarevic. Don't be surprised, though, if the No. 8 seed steals a set before Tipsarevic advances in three.

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