Gael Monfils, Ivo Karlovic reach Japan Open quarterfinals

October 6, 2016
Gael Monfils of France serves to Gilles Simon of France during their second round match of the Japan Open tennis tournament in Tokyo, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

TOKYO (AP) — Second-seeded Gael Monfils overcame an ankle injury to beat Gilles Simon 6-1, 6-4 Thursday and advance to the quarterfinals at the Japan Open.

Monfils trailed 4-1 in the second set when he injured an ankle and had to call for the trainer. He won the next five games after receiving treatment.

“Somehow I got through my shots better when I came back, because maybe I was a bit worried,” Monfils said.

The Frenchman will face Ivo Karlovic in the quarterfinals. The big-serving Croat had 24 aces while beating Janko Tipsarevic 7-6 (9), 7-6 (5), and has now gone to a tiebreak in all five sets he has played in Tokyo.

“Last year I was losing a lot of tiebreaks. This year I’m a little more relaxed in them and trying not to panic,” the seventh-seeded Karlovic said. “My game plan today was that I would go to the net more often but it didn’t work out like that, so I had to be at the back a little more.”

Monfils beat Karlovic in Washington in July, the only time they have met since 2011.

“I was leading by a set and a break in Washington,” Karlovic said. “I was doing really well technically, hitting hard balls and he didn’t like it. Hopefully, I can also do that tomorrow and close out the match this time.”

Also, Gilles Muller of Luxembourg defeated Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 6-4 to set up a match against Nick Kyrgios, who progressed when Radek Stepanek withdrew because of a back injury.

Top-seeded Kei Nishikori, who retired from his second-round match on Wednesday, pulled out of next week’s Shanghai Masters. He said he still hopes to be able to play at the season-ending ATP finals in London.

“The tests show I have a light strain in my left glute muscle,” Nishikori said in a statement. “The doctor is recommending at least 10 days’ rest and heavy rehab. I will do everything I can to get back on court and be ready for the end of the season.”