By Simon Cambers
NEW YORK, Sept 1 Japanese teenager Kei
Nishikori's ground-breaking U.S. Open run came to an end in the
fourth round on Monday with a 6-3 6-4 6-3 defeat by fellow
young gun Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina.
The 18-year-old, the first Japanese man to reach the last
16 in the U.S. Open since 1937, was outgunned by Del Potro, the
17th seed who extended his winning streak to 23 matches.
"I was a little tired, obviously, and mentally more tired,"
Nishikori told reporters.
"At the same time, he was playing really well. He didn't
miss any balls. He was just playing well. I was just waiting
(for) his mistake (and) I couldn't use my forehand."
Del Potro, 19, will now play sixth seed Andy Murray of
Nishikori, in just his second grand slam event, had beaten
fourth seed David Ferrer in the previous round but found Del
Potro, who has won his past four tournaments, too tough.
The Japanese led 3-0 in the first set but Del Potro won six
straight games to take it before moving ahead 5-2 in the
Nishikori gave the Japanese fans inside the Louis Armstrong
Stadium hope when he broke back for 5-4 and when he led 40-0 on
serve in the next game, it looked like he would level at 5-5.
But Del Potro won five straight points to take the set and
then broke twice in the third to reach the quarter-finals of a
grand slam event for the first time.
In addition to his win over Ferrer, Nishikori's run to the
last 16 included a win over 29th seed Juan Monaco in round one.
Shuzo Matsuoko is the only Japanese man to reach the
quarter-finals of a grand slam event, at Wimbledon in 1995, and
Nishikori said his countryman was an inspiration to him.
"He taught me so many things when I was young," he said. "I
was like 12, 13. And, yeah, I'm trying to beat his career.
"(I also look up to) Roger (Federer) and (Rafael) Nadal. I
like how Nadal plays, and Roger, too. He can do everything and
play so smart. That's what I'm trying to be."
A delighted Del Potro said he had been concerned when he
fell 3-0 behind in the first set.
"He started better than me, but after I broke, his serve
and then I started to play my game and it was a little easier,"
"But I did my shots, my game, and finally I won the match
in three sets.
"Today he didn't play too good. I'm happy to be in the
quarter-finals, but it's a good tournament for him, also."
(Editing by Claudia Parsons)