Nishikori, Wawrinka into US Open quarters

Kei Nishikori has cut down the towering Ivo Karlovic of Croatia with surgical precision in a straight-sets win to reach the US Open quarter-finals.

Nishikori, the US Open runner-up two years ago, beat Karlovic 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7-4) in the final main draw singles match at Louis Armstrong Stadium.

The arena will be replaced by a new stadium with a retractable roof for the 2018 tournament.

It was a David and Goliath clash of physical opposites, but the 211cm Karlovic’s game, apart from his prodigious serve, was overshadowed by the skills of the 178cm Nishikori.

The quick-footed Nishikori made 37-year-old Karlovic look like he was standing still, which he often was, as he raced to victory in two hours to earn a berth into the last eight.

“I made a lot of returns off first and second serves and was happy with my return game today,” Nishikori said.

Karlovic hammered in 21 aces but when his first serves were not finding the mark, Nishikori pounced.

Nishikori, who became the first Asian to reach a grand slam men’s final two years ago in Flushing Meadows, has had a strong season, including a run to the quarters at the Australian Open before falling to eventual winner Novak Djokovic.

He won in Memphis and was runner-up at the ATP Masters 1000 Miami, Barcelona and ATP Masters 1000 Toronto, losing to number one Djokovic in Miami and Toronto and to Rafa Nadal in Barcelona.

Two-time major champion Stan Wawrinka blew a lead, smashed a racquet and eventually pulled out a four-set victory to reach his fourth straight US Open quarter-final.

After saving a match point in a five-set win in his last outing, Wawrinka was cruising against 63rd-ranked Illya Marchenko, who was playing in his first Grand Slam round of 16.

Serving for the match in the third set, the third-seeded Wawrinka was broken and went on to lose a tiebreaker.

After going down a break early in the fourth, Wawrinka took his frustrations out on his racket. He proceeded to win the next four games to regain control on the way to a 6-4 6-1 6-7 (7-5) 6-3 victory.

Wawrinka faces 2009 US Open champ Juan Martin del Potro, who beat him at Wimbledon this year.

Del Potro booked his spot in the final eight when Dominic Thiem retired in the second set of their match.

The eighth-seeded Thiem took a medical timeout to have trainers look at his right knee after the set’s fifth game. He returned to the court for one point before deciding he couldn’t go on.

Del Potro had won the first set 6-3 and was up a break in the second.

At No.142, del Potro is the lowest-ranked US Open quarter-finalist since Jimmy Connors in 1991.

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