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Khachanov Cruises Past Nishioka, Into Australian Open Quarter-finals
Karen Khachanov cruised into the Australian Open quarter-finals on Sunday with a scintillating performance against Yoshihito Nishioka.
The 18th seed defeated the Japanese lefty 6-0, 6-0, 7-6(4) to reach the last eight at the year's first major for the first time. Khachanov, who will next play 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz or 29th seed Sebastian Korda, has now advanced to the quarter-finals at all four Grand Slams, the 50th man in the Open Era to accomplish the feat.
"First two sets I didn't know what was going on, but it's never easy when you are going with the score too easy. You feel it," Khachanov said. "Then at one point Yoshi tried to turn it around, he pumped the crowd and it's normal. I tried to stay focussed all the match from the beginning until the end. But it's not easy to win with this score, three sets, so the third set it was a really tough one and I'm playing well, so I'm really happy to go through."
Entering the match, Nishioka had won all nine sets he played through three rounds. But the 31st seed struggled to find any rhythm inside John Cain Arena, where Khachanov stormed through the first two sets in 46 minutes.
The four-time ATP Tour titlist won the first 14 games of the match. In the second set, Khachanov won 24 of the 26 points played to take a commanding lead.
Nishioka was left shaking his head. The 27-year-old is known for his speed and grit, always finding ways to put extra balls in play and frustrate his opponents. But Nishioka hit just three winners to 23 unforced errors in the first two sets.
When Khachanov broke early in the third set and took a 2-0 lead, it seemed Nishioka's hopes of finding a way into the match were slim. But when the lefty broke back, he involved the crowd and that turned the momentum.
Nishioka began to make Khachanov work harder to win points, which made all the difference on the scoreboard. Suddenly Khachanov was unable to rely on his opponent making mistakes. Nishioka’s head-shaking was replaced by positive fist-pumping.
But the 180-degree turn in level did not ultimately change the outcome. Khachanov remained calm in the tie-break to take a 3-1 ATP Head2Head lead against Nishioka.
"You try to stay focussed all the match, even though sometimes it doesn't go your way and [at] some points [it] goes up and down," Khachanov said. "I think the belief and self-confidence helps you to go all the way."
Did You Know?
Khachanov advanced to his first Grand Slam semi-final at last year's US Open.
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