British World No 2 Andy Murray bowed out of the US Open after being beaten in five sets by Kei Nishikori at Flushing Meadows.
The 2014 runner-up from Japan edged past this year’s Wimbledon and Olympic champion 1-6 6-4 4-6 6-1 7-5 in just under four hours of drama on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“It was so exciting on the court but I tried to stay calm. It was really tough,” said Nishikori after reaching only his second Slam semi-final where he will play Stan Warinka who beat Juan Martin del Potro.
“He’s a great returner, there were lots of up and downs. I didn’t start well.”
In a match littered with service breaks – 17 in all – Nishikori prevailed for only his second win in eight matches against the world No 2.
A decisive moment came at the start of the fourth set when Murray held two break points for a 2-1 lead, but Nishikori battled back to win the game from 15-40 down after a loud gong-like sound burst from the malfunctioning public address system forced Umpire Marija Cicak ordered the point to be replayed much to the irritation of the Briton who lost his composure.
He then embarked on a run of seven straight games during which he broke the Scot three times in a row.
Murray admitted that he briefly lost his composure which opened the door for 2014 runner-up Nishikori who has now beaten top 10 players five times at the US Open.
“Definitely I would say to 4-1 I didn’t play a good game after I got out of the change of ends, and then he held pretty comfortably the next game,” said the Briton.
“But after that, I don’t think so. I lost my serve a couple of times from positions when I was up in the game.”