ATP Miami: Kei Nishikori Books Place in Final with Impressive Victory over Nick Kyrgios

World number six Kei Nishikori kept his luck alive at the 2016 Miami Open, defeating world number 26 Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 7-5. The match finished in one hour and 24 minutes to help Nishikori advance into his first-ever Miami Open final, where he will meet world number one Novak Djokovic. Despite his intense and draining victory over Gael Monfils yesterday, the Japanese number one looked rested and prepared for this match.

Efficient Nishikori Takes First Set In 29 Minutes

After his dramatic two and a half hour quarterfinal victory over Monfils, Nishikori wanted nothing more than a quick opening set. He would get just that. Despite the pressure of his first semifinal in Miami, Kyrgios stepped out under the lights ready to play and his start didn’t disappoint.

The young Australian began the match with two aces in a row before comfortably holding at love. In the third game, Nishikori stepped up his game, producing three break points right away. Despite saving the first two, Kyrgios double faulted for the first time to give the break to the 6th seed. Nishikori’s sharp level of play would continue with both players continuing to hold serve.

Down 5-3, Kyrgios was serving to remain in the set, but Nishikori jumped out to a 0-30 lead. With a brilliant overhead lob, the 26-year-old racked up two set points. The 24th seed would double fault again to gift the first set to Nishikori. The 26-year old from Japan made only 57 percent of his first serves, but won an impressive 83 percent of his first serve points as well as 67 percent of his second serve points. Kyrgios would win 65 percent of his first serve points and 44 percent of his second serve points. Nishikori faced zero break points in the opening set.

Kyrgios stretches out to reach the ball before hitting the forehand. Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Kyrgios stretches out to reach the ball before hitting the forehand (Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Japanese Star Outlasts Kyrgios In Tough Second Set, Advances To Final

Nishikori carried his momentum directly over into the second set, holding incredibly easily to start. Immediately after the change of ends in the second game, the 6th seed had three break points in Kyrgios’ first service game of the set. On his third opportunity, after a lengthy backhand-to-backhand rally, the 26-year-old secured the break for a 2-0 lead. Just as it seemed that Nishikori would run away with the match, Kyrgios produced his first break opportunity of the match. The Japanese number one ripped a backhand down the line, which just clipped the outside of the line to save the break point chance.

The Australian refused to give up, forcing his second break point opportunity. This time, he would break the 6th seed thanks to his second double fault of the match. Kyrgios consolidated the break to level the second set at two games all. Numerous service holds would follow to the 12th game, where Nishikori led 6-5 with Kyrgios serving at deuce, only two points from potentially exiting the tournament.

Nishikori rips a backhand for a winner down-the-line. Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Nishikori rips a backhand for a winner down-the-line (Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

After two consecutive lets on first serve, the 20-year old Australian double faulted, bringing up the first match point for the Japanese star. Down match point, the gutsy Australian hit a booming, yet risky second serve and won the point. However, Nishikori was in no mood to head into a tiebreak. The world number six set up another match point and this time he sealed the deal. After a long and impressive rally, the 6th seed booked his place in the final with a cross court volley winner.

Nishikori's level of fitness paid off in this match, as he was able to recover from his labor-intensive victory against Monfils and play very well on Friday. Nishikori won 77 percent of his first serve points, but more impressively, he won 71 percent of his second serve points. By comparison, Kyrgios won just 41 percent. The 20-year old played well in his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Series semifinal, but Nishikori was simply too good.

Kyrgios congratulates Nishikori on his victory. Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Kyrgios congratulates Nishikori on his victory (Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Nishikori To Meet Djokovic In Men's Final

Nishikori will meet Djokovic in the Miami Open men’s final, which begins at 1:00 PM Eastern Time on Sunday, April 3rd at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on Key Biscayne Island. The Serbian leads the head-to-head six victories to two.

Djokovic was victorious in their most recent meeting, which was in the 2016 Australian Open quarterfinals. Djokovic won that clash in straight sets. Nishikori’s biggest win over the Serbian number one came at the 2014 U.S. Open, in the semifinals, as the Japanese number one won in four sets. That was the last time that Nishikori beat Djokovic. 

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