Chennai: Serbian sixth seed Janko Tipsarevic on Friday entered his second successive semifinals at the Aircel Chennai Open after defeating unseeded Japanese Kei Nishikori 6-4 6-4 here.
In his last-four match, Tipsarevic will meet Belgian seventh seed Xavier Malisse who dispossed off German Bjorn Phau 6-0 6-2 in his quarterfinal tie earlier in the day.
The Serbian had lost in the last-four stage last year to Marin Cilic who went on to win the title.
In the quarterfinal tie, fatigue finally seemed to have caught up with Nishikori who had stunned two-time defending champion Marin Cilic in the first round in three sets and reached the quarterfinals after another tiring three-setter against Columbian Alejandro Falla.
But the Japanese did not fold until well into the match when Tipsarevic broke him in the seventh game of the second set to go up 4-3. Nishikori had by then broken the Serbian -- who enjoys a world ranking of 49 to Nishikori`s 98 -- both in the seventh game of the first set and the third game of the second.
But the 21-year-old found it hard to deal with Tipsarevic`s serves, replying with a solitary ace to the Serbian`s five. Tipsarevic also saved four of the five break points against him and conceded only one to his opponent.
After breaking Nishikori in the seventh game of the second set to go 4-3 up, Tipsarevic played like a man on a mission, wanting to wrap up the match as soon as possible but his notorious inconsistency put a spanner in his plans.
In contrast to Tipsarevic, Nishikori looked deflated after being broken in the seventh game and lost the match within the next three games.
In game 10 of the second set, Tipsarevic had a match point at 40-30 against Nishikori with the score at 5-4 in favour of the Serbian. But Nishikori saved it when the Serbian sent a backhand return long. Nishikori then pocketed the game when Tipsarevic sent another backhand long with the Japanese on advantage.
In the final game, a Tipsarevic backhand return down the line had Nishikori struggling to return it, making it 30-15 in favour of the Serbian. But Tipsarevic, known for his tendency to follow up brilliant returns with shots that would gift points to his opponents, typically sent a forehand return long and handed the initiative back to Nishikori.
But another faboulous forehand winner down the line gave him 40-30 advantage that the Serbian converted with a cross court forehand from the baseline, which Nishikori failed to put across.