Tennis: Nishikori ends Japan's 82-year French Open wait

Tennis: Nishikori ends Japan's 82-year French Open wait
Kei Nishikori of Japan plays a shot to Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia during their men's singles match at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, May 31, 2015.

PARIS - Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese man in 82 years to reach the French Open quarter-finals on Sunday with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over Russia's Teymuraz Gabashvili.

Fifth seed Nishikori goes on to face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 14th seeded Frenchman, for a place in the semi-finals.

Jiro Satoh was the last Japanese man to enjoy such a run in Paris when he went on to the semi-finals in 1931 and 1933.

But Nishikori insisted he does not feel the pressure of being a pathfinder having already become the first Asian man to reach a Grand Slam final at the US Open last year where he finished runner-up.

"It's always great to make new history, especially for Japan and Asian," said Nishikori who was one of five Japanese men to feature in the main draw in Paris this year, the most since 1967.

"Clay is not the best surface for us. Now I'm trying to make the new step. I hope I can keep going like this on clay court.

"But I don't feel any pressure from the media or the fans in Japan. It's exciting for me to get a lot of support.

"I have a lot of people watching in Japan and a lot of my friends are watching." Nishikori hadn't played since Wednesday after scheduled third round opponent Benjamin Becker withdrew with an injury.

The 25-year-old looked fresher than Gabashvili out on a damp, chilly Court Suzanne Lenglen dominating the first set and racing to a 5-1 lead in the second before 74th-ranked Russian briefly rallied with a face-saving break in the eighth game.

The third set followed a similar path of domination with Nishikori again stretching to a 5-1 lead.

Gabashvili saved two match points but the Japanese, who had also beaten the Russian in Barcelona in April on his way to a successful defence of his claycourt title, won through.

Nishikori finished with 40 winners, more than three times his opponent's and took his clay record this year to 13-2.

He will take a 4-1 career edge into his quarter-final against Tsonga although all of their five meetings have been on hard courts.

Tsonga, 30, made the semi-finals in Paris in 2013 and will be playing in his third quarter-final at his home Grand Slam.

"He was injured and he came back now and he's coming back very strong," said Nishikori of the Frenchman.

"He has a big serve, a big forehand. He's always a dangerous player. It's going to be a fun match."

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