Sixth seed Kei Nishikori squares 24th seed Nick Kyrgios for a place in the Miami Open title match.
How they got here
Nishikori received a bye in the first round and he's had a relatively easy road. His wins up to this point came over French qualifier Pierre-Hughes Herbert 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) in the second round, a third round win over 27th seed Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine 6-2, 6-2 and a straightforward 6-2, 6-4 fourth round victory over 17th seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain. His quarterfinal win over Gael Monfils of France was perhaps the match of the year so far, saving 5 match points en route to a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) win a and a spot in this semifinal.
Kyrgios also received a first round bye. Much like his title win in Marseille, he's been impressive in not dropping a set so far, recording wins over Marcos Baghdatis 6-2, 6-1 in the second round, American qualifier Tim Smyczek 6-4, 6-4 in the third round, Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 in the fourth round and his best win of the tournament, a convincing 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) over Indian Wells finalist Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals in a match that was not as close as the score would indicate.
Their only previous meeting was a 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 win for Nishikori in the second round of last year's Shanghai Masters.
What to expect
Nishikori is sure to be tired after a grueling, emotional win over Monfils yesterday, a match that was also played during the heat of the day and Kyrgios has the firepower to overwhelm the Japanese should he not be 100%. The Austrailian should be relatively fresh with no three set matches so far to tire him out.
Nishikori does have improved stamina and this match will be played during the evening, when temperatures should be cooler. His game is reliant on his excellent backhand and outstanding movement and he'll have to try to be at 100% to get Kyrgios' firepower back. With the loss by Andy Murray in this half of the draw, the door was opened wide for one of these two to reach the final.
Kyrgios in 2 sets. Although Nishikori, as mentioned above, has improved his stamina and his fitness, his match yesterday surely has taken a lot of out him and it's doubtful he'll have fully recovered with no day off in between the win over Monfils and this match against Kyrgios. With his tournament championship in Marseille and two quarterfinal appearances at the Australian Open, Kyrgios has a game built for hard courts and in facing a tired player with no powerful weapons, his form is good enough where he should be able to reach the final with very little trouble.