Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Sports

Djokovic takes on Murray

NEW YORK — Andy Murray went more than a year between victories over top-10 opponents.

Now he needs to make it two in a row.

In the U.S. Open quarterfinals tonight, he will face No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the seven-time major champion whom Murray beat in the final for his two Grand Slam titles — at Flushing Meadows in 2012, and at Wimbledon in 2013.

The latter had been Murray's most recent win against someone ranked in the top 10 until he got past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round Monday.

"That's really why we play the game. That's what you put the work in for, so that when you come to these events, and you do have to play against the best players, that you're ready," the eighth-seeded Murray said. "As much as it's incredibly tough and challenging, the match, that's what you enjoy."

Djokovic, the 2011 U.S. Open champion and a participant in the past four finals in New York, has won 12 of 20 career meetings against Murray.

Both men are superb returners and ball-retrievers, able to swing from defense to offense in a blink.

"A lot of the matches have been long games, long rallies, long points," Murray said, "because we do a lot of the same things well."

Meanwhile, coming off a five-set victory that ended at 2:26 a.m. Tuesday — tying the latest finish in tournament history — 10th-seeded Kei Nishikori didn't have much time to recuperate for his quarterfinal today against No. 3 Stan Wawrinka.

Nishikori had minimal pre-tournament preparation for the U.S. Open, missing time after having a cyst removed from his right foot in early August. He resumed practicing points a couple of days before play began last week.

"I wasn't expecting (a) big result like this," he said of his upset of No. 5 Milos Raonic, "but after the first round, I (got) more confidence on my foot."

If he beats Wawrinka, Nishikori would be the first Japanese semifinalist at a Grand Slam tournament in 81 years.

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