The 27-year-old Japanese tennis player booked a spot in miami's last 8 for the 2nd time in a row. Nishikori, the no. 2 seed in Miami and the world no. 4 got past Federico Delbonis (57 ATP) from Argentina. Nishikori, who was a runner-up in Miami last year, is trying to keep himself inside the top 4 ATP just before the clay court swing. Having to defend several hundreds of points, he sees his seat being threatened either by Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal. Once again, Kei needed 3 sets to get past his opponent, a similar scenario to that of the previous round when the Japanese player edged Fernando Verdasco in a 3rd decisive set.

Nishikori had the stronger mindset

When a tennis match crosses the line moving into a decisive set, a hazardous feeling can set in. That's why most players, especially those having high hopes during a tournament, put in their best in order to avoid such a gamble which a decisive set could easily be. But Nishikori seems to deal quite well with the stress factor and is getting stronger. Against Delbonis, he took the opening set 6-3. Some struggles in the 2nd one opened the door a bit for the 26-year-old Argentine as he made his move, winning the set. The decisive set had its fair share of drama as it saw Delbonis breaking first on the opponent's serve. A huge upset was on the rise, a near-miss Nishikori eventually dealt with as he bounced back, winning 6-3.

Fabio Fognini is next in line

For Nishikori, the hardest part is not over yet. In the quarterfinals, he must deal with Fabio Fognini, a tricky puzzle with so many dead ends. The 29-year-old Italian delivered strong tennis against the home crowd favourite Donald Young (51 ATP). A straight victory 6-0, 6-4 pushed the Italian into Miami's quarterfinals.

In head-to-head stats, Nishikori won the last 2 matches, once on clay at Madrid in 2016, and once on the outdoor hard court at the Australian Open back in 2011. Against Fognini (40 ATP) you may never know how things will settle, as the Italian can produce some highly-effective tennis.

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