WASHINGTON: Reigning US Open champion Marin Cilic and 2014 US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori advanced to the quarterfinals of the ATP and WTA Washington Open with straight-set triumphs on Thursday (Friday in Manila).
Japanese second seed Nishikori, the highest-ranked player in the field after Britain’s Andy Murray crashed out in his opening match, never faced a break point in dispatching Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 6-4, after 92 minutes.
“I’m very confident and I’m feeling really good,” Nishikori said.
Croatian third seed Cilic, who faced a possible rematch with Nishikori in the semifinals, outfought 32nd-ranked American Sam Querrey 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/3) at the US Open hardcourt warm-up event.
“I’m pretty confident about my game,” Cilic said. “I’m 30 percent better at this moment than last year.”
French fourth seed Richard Gasquet, coming off a Wimbledon semifinals run, was upset by 37th-ranked American Jack Sock 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 after two hours and 33 minutes.
“It took me a while to get into a rhythm,” Sock said. “I knew if I stayed close and kept fighting I would have a chance.”
Women’s top seed Ekaterina Makarova of Russia also reached the last eight, defeating Britain’s Naomi Broady 6-4, 7-6 (7/2). She next plays Romanian sixth seed Irina-Camelia Begu.
Nishikori, who seeks his third title of the year after Memphis and Barcelona and the 10th of his career, silenced speculation in Japan he might be becoming a father, saying, “I hope one day, but not yet.”
Fifth-ranked Nishikori broke Mayer for a 4-3 edge and held twice more to take the first set in 59 minutes, then broke again in the penultimate game of the match when the South American netted a forehand volley after having saved two other break points.
“He was returning well. That’s why I could only break him twice,” Nishikori said.
The 25-year-old Asian no.1 will next face Australia’s Sam Groth, who fired 20 aces to defeat Spanish seventh seed Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4 in 59 minutes.