Guam – No. 7 Katsuki Nagao of Japan dropped just six games in two matches against a pair of Australian juniors, but may face his biggest test yet in the 2014 Delta Guam Futures presented by Docomo Pacific and Hilton Guam Resort & Spa when he faces No. 3 Yuuya Kibi for a semifinal berth.
Nagao began his singles main draw bid with a 6-1, 6-3 win over 14-year-old Benard Bruno Nkomba and in Thursday’s match, a 6-1, 6-1 victory over another 14-year-old, Kody Pearson. Pearson had earlier earned the distinction as the youngest player to date in Guam Futures history to win a singles main draw match after dispatching Japan’s Sogo Kuroda Tuesday.
[No. 7 Katsuki Nagao powers in a forehand return against Kody Pearson of Australia during a Round 2 singles match of the 2014 Delta Guam Futures presented by Docomo Pacific and Hilton Guam Resort & Spa at the Hilton tennis courts. Nagao cruised past Pearson 6-1, 6-1.]
“I was nervous at first going up against the young, junior players from Australia, but as I began playing, I was happy that I was able to concentrate well to win,” said Nagao, with the assistance of fellow tennis player Tadayuki Longhi, who helped as a translator. “The next round, it may be difficult against Kibi – I must have played against him six or seven times already, and I only won one time. I really want to win again, so I have to play my best against him. I might have to try different tactics, like going to the net more. I want to avoid going into long rallies with him, especially because of Guam’s hot weather.”
Kibi, currently ranked No. 539 in the world, set up the quarterfinal meeting with Nagao after defeating Shunrou Takeshima 6-3, 6-4, in a two-hour long match on Court No. 1.
[No. 3 Yuuya Kibi of Japan powers in a forehand against Shunrou Takeshima, also of Japan during a Round 2 singles match of the 2014 Delta Guam Futures presented by Docomo Pacific and Hilton Guam Resort & Spa at the Hilton tennis courts. Kibi secured his place in the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-4 victory.]
Nagao, currently ranked No. 920 in the world, won 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in his last match up with Kibi almost one year ago during the Showanomori Open Tennis Tournament 2013 in Japan (Japan F6 Futures) on a carpet surface. In that same tournament, Nagao made it to the championship match, just coming up short against compatriot Takashi Saito, 4-6, 6-1, 6-0.
[No. 2 Takuto Niki of Japan gets in position for a forehand return against Atsushi Ushida during a Round 2 singles match of the 2014 Delta Guam Futures presented by Docomo Pacific and Hilton Guam Resort & Spa at the Hilton tennis courts. Niki won 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.]
In other Day 4 Guam Futures singles matches, Japan’s Atsushi Ushida forced No. 2 Takuto Niki to three sets, but fell his higher-ranked opponent, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2. Niki won all five of his break point opportunities and powered in nine aces in the match compared to Ushida’s one ace.
[Atsushi Ushida of Japan extends for a forehand return against No. 2 Takuto Niki during a Round 2 singles match of the 2014 Delta Guam Futures presented by Docomo Pacific and Hilton Guam Resort & Spa at the Hilton tennis courts. Niki won 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.]
No. 4 Bumpei survived a scare, but managed to outlast Korea Republic’s Lim Hyun-Soo 3-6, 6-2, 7-5.
The only seeded player not to make the quarterfinals is No. 5 Hung Jui-Chen of Chinese Taipei, who lost Wednesday to Japan’s Ko Suzuki in three sets.
In doubles action, Gengo Kikuchi and Takeshima forced an all-Japan semifinal round with a win over Hiroshi Yano and Zhuo Zhan 6-2, 6-2. Kikuchi/Takeshima will next face Kibi and Tomohiro Masabayashi.
No. 3 Nagao and partner Hiromasa Oku also advanced to the semifinal with a 1-6, 6-3, 10-6 win over Longhi and Suzuki. Nagao/Oku will play No. 1 Niki/Sato.
Singles and doubles matches continue Friday beginning at 10 a.m. at the Hilton tennis courts. Updated draws and the order of play are posted at the Hilton tennis clubhouse and also online on the Guam National Tennis Federation Facebook page, facebook.com/GuamTennis