Nishikori escapes upset bid, faces Zverev in semi-final06 August 2017 AFP, Washington
Top-10 rivals Kei Nishikori and Alexander Zverev advanced to a semi-final showdown at the ATP and WTA City Open on Friday while second-ranked Simona Halep retired with heat fatigue.
Ninth-ranked Nishikori, the 2015 champion on the Washington hardcourts, saved three match points in a tension-packed second set before rallying to beat 225th-ranked American 20-year-old Tommy Paul 3-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-4 after two hours and 40 minutes.
"It was a great battle," Nishikori said. "He almost had it. Happy to win."
Zverev, a 20-year-old German seeking his fourth ATP title of the year and ranked a career-high eighth, took only 57 minutes to eliminate Russia's Daniil Medvedev 6-2, 6-4.
"I felt so good from the start," Zverev said. "It was a great match for me. It's just all coming together now."
It will be the first career meeting between Nishikori and Zverev.
"I'm sure it's going to be a tough match," Nishikori said. He has been playing really well."
"Kei has been in the top 10 for a long time now," Zverev said. "He's going to be a tough test on the hardcourts."
Saturday's other semi-final sends US eighth seed Jack Sock-a 7-5, 6-4 winner over Canadian third seed Milos Raonic-against South African 15th seed Kevin Anderson, who blasted 21 aces to defeat 200th-ranked Indian qualifier Yuki Bhambri 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, after ousting top seed Dominic Thiem on Thursday.
"I definitely have the belief in myself that I'm able to win this tournament," Anderson said. "If I play my best tennis I have a chance to do very well."
A day after complaining that severe heat left her feeling "a bit dead," French Open runner-up Halep quit her quarter-final match in even more scorching conditions, allowing Russian seventh seed Ekaterina Makarova to advance 2-6, 6-3, 1-0.
"It was just the heat. I felt a little bit sick and I couldn't continue," Halep said. "I had a headache and I felt sick."
Nishikori's second-set drama intensified when Paul, in only his sixth career ATP main draw, hit a cross-court winner for an 8-7 tie-breaker edge. But Paul followed with a wide forehand, a backhand beyond the baseline and a miss-hit, handing Nishikori the set after 73 grueling minutes.
"For sure he got a little bit tight," said Nishikori. "But those points I played good points. I didn't make any unforced errors. Very focused. Experience worked well for me."
Nishikori, in his first event since a third-round Wimbledon exit, broke in the third game of the final set and held serve from there to eliminate Paul, who reached his first career ATP quarter-final last week in Atlanta.