The first ATP Masters 1000 event of the season already had its share of drama during the past days. But, a 27-year-old player from Japan, Kei Nishikori, didn't allow anything out of ordinary to happen in his quarter of the draw. Nishikori (5 ATP) is starting to put together a couple of compelling wins in a row. With a strong and dominant presence on the tennis court, the 4th seed is the first player already in the quarterfinals. To reach this stage, he got past 3 opponents, each time winning in the minimum number of sets required. He shares the upper half with Stan Wawrinka. Once Murray was caught off guard, Nishikori and Wawrinka were the names to put your money on.

Donald Young failed to convert his chances

Young, a 27-year-old American ranked 60th in the world had a fierce opponent in front. The opening set was a mess for the American, as Nishikori was totally on top of the game. With a poor delivery on his own serve, Young's hopes were rapidly dashed. The Japanese player put the opener in his pocket in just 35 minutes. Despite having a low-ranking status, Young possesses some solid experience on the professional circuit.

The 2nd set had a different flow. The American got rapidly in front, leading 3-0 due to a successful break in the 2nd game. But Nishikori remains one of the great defenders in men's tennis, a complete athlete who cannot accept defeat .

At 4-2 for Young, the inevitable happened with Nishikori regaining his pace. From that point on it was a lost battle for the American, who was left to dry out in the California sun. It was 6-2 6-4 for Nishikori, who will play against either Jack Sock (18 ATP) or Malek Jaziri (53 ATP) in the next round.

Nishikori on the rise

The Japanese player made a name for himself in 2014. A fruitful season was capped with a Grand Slam final appearance which he lost to Marin Cilic of Croatia. It could have been the starting point for great future success in professional tennis. Since then, whether it was an injury or a lengthy recovery followed by poor results, he never got close to his peak form.

Maybe this season will have a different story to tell. At 27 years of age, his sports maturity is complete. If he manages to keep himself away from dark episodes like injuries, he could accomplish more. There is plenty of room left for him to do so.

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