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  • Cilic, Nishikori clash in Memphis quarterfinals

    2/22/13 3:58 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Cilic, Nishikori clash in Memphis quarterfinals The winner of Friday's showdown between Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori may be favored to win the title in what has become a depleted Memphis draw. For now they are looking for a spot in the semifinals.

    Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori will be squaring off for the fifth time in their careers when they do battle in the quarterfinals of the U.S. National Indoor Championships on Friday.

    The head-to-head series is all tied up at two wins apiece, and all four of their previous encounters have come on hard courts (although this will be their first indoor meeting). They most recently faced each other in the third round of last year's U.S. Open, with Cilic prevailing 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3 to avenge a five-set defeat at the 2010 event.

    Both players are on top of their games at the moment. Nishikori registers at a solid 22nd in the world--seven spots off his career-high--and he is 8-2 for the season following straight-set wins in Memphis over qualifiers Illya Marchenko and Donald Young.

    Cilic has been living on thin ice during his debut appearance at this tournament. The 12th-ranked Croat, who owns an 11-2 record for his 2013 campaign, came back from a set down against Ivan Dodig then saved three match points to outlast Igor Sijsling 7-6(2), 3-6, 7-6(7).

    When he is playing his best tennis, Cilic has a bigger game than his opponent--especially on this surface. Nishikori, however, has enjoyed a much more routine path to the last eight. As such, this is a brutally tough one to call. Cilic in three tight sets is the pick.


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