Djokovic Outlasts Nishikori For Final Berth – ATP World Tour

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Novak Djokovic secured a spot in the Mutua Madrid Open final for the second time, surviving a late rally from Kei Nishikori to prevail 6-3, 7-6(4).

Djokovic will renew his storied rivalry with Andy Murray on Sunday, with a second title at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event on the line. The Serb, who previously triumphed in 2011 (d. Nadal),has now swept through 14 straight matches against fellow Top 10 players, notching 30 of 31 sets during that stretch.

With the roof open on a rainy Saturday evening in the Spanish capital, the 2011 champion escaped early trouble, coming under pressure in his first three service games. Nishikori looked to play first-strike tennis against the World No. 1, claiming 14 of the first 19 baseline points and registering the first 10 winners of the match. The top-seeded Serb saved three break points (at 0/40) to open proceedings and those missed opportunities would prove to be critical for the Japanese.

At 4-3 deuce, Djokovic whipped a forehand that kicked out of Nishikori’s reach and an unforced error would give the Serb the first break of the match. The top seed closed out the first set a game later after 40 minutes. In total, Djokovic dominated rallies under five shots in the opener, capturing 22 of 31.

Nishikori looked to have the upper hand at the start of the second set, striking a sublime acute-angled drop shot winner to hold for 2-1. The tide looked to be turning with a 0/30 edge in the next game, but Djokovic would shut the door and the World No. 1 converted his third break chance in the fifth game to take the lead for good… or so it seemed.

On the doorstep of victory at 5-4 40/0, Djokovic would see his seemingly insurmountable lead evaporate in a shocking turn of events. All three match points would come and go and Nishikori would save a fourth two points later. Djokovic relinquished his first break of the tournament as Nishikori suddenly reeled off 13 of 18 points, pulling ahead 6-5.

But Djokovic would survive in the ensuing tie-break, converting his fifth match point for the victory after one hour and 59 minutes. He fired 22 winners, including five aces, while taking eight off 11 net points. The Serb won 51 points lasting under five shots, to Nishikori’s 33.

Nishikori, runner-up to Rafael Nadal in Madrid in 2011, was bidding to reach a third consecutive final on the ATP World Tour (Miami & Barcelona). Djokovic took an 8-2 lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series and will look to extend his 22-9 mark against Murray, exactly 10 years removed from the very first encounter in the Madrid third round.

Djokovic Outlasts Nishikori For Final Berth – ATP World Tour