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Tennis: Nishikori books SF spot with hard-fought Moselle Open win

Kei Nishikori of Japan competes against Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia at a Moselle Open quarterfinal in Metz, France, on Sept. 21, 2018. (Kyodo)

METZ, France (Kyodo) -- Japan's Kei Nishikori set himself up for a semifinal clash with qualifier Matthias Bachinger of Germany after a hard-fought 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 quarterfinal victory at the Moselle Open on Friday.

The top-seeded Nishikori easily won the first set but had to fight through the next two against fifth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili, who in July won his maiden title at the German Championships in Hamburg, to complete the match in 2 hours and six minutes.

"The first set was perfect, I couldn't have played better," Nishikori said.

"But it turned out to be tricky from the second set on. I had to refocus and rebuild my confidence. In the end, I played better and was able to win points despite the tough situations," he said.

His Georgian opponent fired an ace to wrap up the second set and took a 3-1 lead in the decider.

But Nishikori, currently 12th in the world, won five of the next six games, breaking back in the sixth and 10th games, and closed out the match with a fist pump.

Nishikori plays in the second of two semifinal matches on center court on Saturday.

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