Nishikori battles past Paire; sets up French Open quarterfinal clash against Nadal

Nishikori won 6-2, 6-7 (8/10), 6-2, 6-7 (8/10), 7-5 in a shade under four hours to reach his third last-eight clash at the French Open.

Kei Nishikori celebrates after beating Benoit Paire in the French Open 2019 fourth round.   -  getty images

Japanese seventh seed Kei Nishikori came back from 1-4 and 3-5 down in the final set to beat Benoit Paire of France and set-up a Roland Garros quarterfinal clash against defending champion Rafael Nadal on Monday.

Nishikori won 6-2, 6-7 (8/10), 6-2, 6-7 (8/10), 7-5 in a shade under four hours to reach his third last-eight clash at the French Open.

“He almost had it today,” said Nishikori who had led two sets to one when the last-16 tie was suspended on Sunday.

“He served for the match at 5-3 but I just tried to fight and play one point at a time.”

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The 29-year-old Japanese could have wrapped it up in the fourth set when he had two match points but he squandered both, the second on a double fault.

Paire, the world number 38 who was trying to make the quarterfinal of a Slam for the first time, was eventually undone by 15 double faults and 79 unforced errors.

Nishikori has only defeated 11-time French Open champion Nadal twice in 12 meetings with both of those wins coming on hard court.

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The 33-year-old Spaniard has won all four of their meetings on clay.

“It's going to be a tough match, he's the greatest ever clay court player,” said Nishikori.