MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Defending champion Kei Nishikori of Japan beat Benjamin Becker of Germany 6-4, 6-4 on Wednesday night in the U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships.
Nishikori, who won his third career title at The Racquet Club last year, will play Russian Alex Bogomolov Jr. in the quarterfinals Friday. Bogomolov beat American Ryan Harrison 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 earlier Wednesday.
The defending champ started slowly as he struggled a bit with his serve. Nishikori, who didn't drop a set here winning this tournament a year ago, jumped out to a 3-1 lead only to be broken twice. Nishikori broke Becker to open the match and again after the German broke him for a second time to tie the set at 4-4.
"You see the score it looks simple like easy," Nishikori said. "But with so many breaks and I was serving all right but a couple moments I wasn't feeling the ball and the ball was going everywhere. So I led in unforced errors I guess today. First match and never easy of course against Becker, but I'm happy to win two sets today."
American Jack Sock beat Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-1. Sock needed 68 minutes to top Vesely overcoming six double-faults on his way to his second quarterfinal this year. Michael Russell downed fellow American Tim Smyczek 6-2, 7-6 (5) and will play third-seeded Lleyton Hewitt of Australia or Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus.
Qualifier Denis Kudla beat fellow American Donald Young 6-1 6-1 in a first-round match needing only an hour to get a little payback for losing to Young here last year.
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