Two-time Tokyo champion and home favorite Kei Nishikori is through to his eighth quarter-final of the season and the third in a row after a 6-3 7-5 win over Benoit Paire in an hour and 27 minutes. This was the seventh meeting between the two and the fifth win for Kei who lost serve three times but scored five breaks on the other side from 11 chances to secure the win in straight sets despite an early setback in the second set.
They both struggled with the first serve placement and Benoit was more affected, losing half of the points in his games to offer so many break chances to his rival. Nishikori had 23 winners and 22 unforced errors while Paire stood on a 17-24 ratio, not enough to take at least a set.
The Japanese earned a break in the second game after a double fault from Paire and he moved 3-0 up with a backhand down the line winner to cement his lead. The Frenchman couldn't find his rhythm and he got broken again in game four after a poor backhand, facing a set point at 0-5 that could have served a bagel for Kei.
Benoit saved it and he pulled one break back in the next game, reducing the deficit to 5-3 before Kei fired three forehand winners in the ninth game to grab the opener 6-3. Nishikori played a sloppy game at the start of the second set to fall 3-0 behind but he broke back in game five with an amazing running forehand cross court winner, reducing the deficit to 3-2 and blasting another good forehand in game seven for another break that pushed him 4-3 up.
Benoit was in the bad rhythm again and he lost the fifth straight game to find himself 5-3 down, serving to stay in the set in the following game. He did that and the match was pretty much alive when he landed a backhand down the line winner in the 10th game that earned a break for him, leveling the score at 5-5 and prolonging the encounter for a more drama.
Nonetheless, Benoit wasted a game point in the following game to get broken, allowing Kei to cross the finish line with a nice hold in game 12 and book the place in the quarters. Competing for the first time in the official matches since the US Open, 2016 Tokyo champion Nick Kyrgios has scored his 24th win of the season after a hard-fought 7-5 7-6 win over Shenzhen winner Yoshihito Nishioka in an hour and 13 minutes. Two years ago, Nick prevailed in the semi-final of Atlanta and he had to give his best against the coeval today as well, firing 20 aces and saving two out of three break points to keep the pressure on his rival.
Yoshihito had only a few days to prepare himself for indoor conditions but he made Nick run for his money, saving seven out of nine break points and wasting two set points in set number two to fall in straight sets. The Japanese saved four break points in the opening game of the match before Nick broke him at love in game five to move 3-2 ahead after a loose forehand from Nishioka.
Out of sudden, Kyrgios was broken at 15 in the next game when his backhand found the net and they served well in the next four games to stay locked up at 5-5. Yoshihito was in troubles again in the 11th game, saving three break points before netting an easy forehand to hand the lead to Kyrgios who blasted four service winners in the next game for a 7-5.
The returners have won just nine points in the opening nine games of the second set, with one good hold after another before Nishioka created a set point in game 10 that Nick repelled with a service winner. The Aussie did the same at 5-6 and this gave him a huge boost before the tie break where he fired five winners, sealing the deal with a beautiful volley winner behind the back to grab the breaker 7-3 and join Kei in the last eight.