With one spot remaining for the Mutua Madrid Open final, Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori went head-to-head for the tenth time in their career. The Serb would prevail 6-3, 7-6(4) to book his spot against Andy Murray. This will be their 32nd meeting in total. Djokovic leads their head-to-head 22-9, winning their last match in the final at the Australian Open.
Late break seals opening set for Djokovic
Kei Nishikori started the set quickly, racing away to a love-40 lead on the Djokovic serve. However, the Serb fought back to win five points in a row to take the opening service game. The Japanese held his service game pretty comfortably and the set was at 1-1. Nishikori seemed to be playing attacking tennis in the early parts of the match, claiming 14 of the first 19 baseline points and registering ten winners to his name.
Both continued to hold serve in the next couple of games and at 4-3, Djokovic hit a forehand, that was out of Nishikori's reach and an unforced error lead to the 28-year-old to gain the first break point of the match. After 40 minutes, the world number one took the first set 6-3, dictating most of the rallies during the set.
Djokovic wins tiebreaker; books spot in final
At the start of the second, Djokovic looked to start strongly, however, Nishikori had to save two break points in the game as he held. Nishikori looked to gain advantage at the start of the set, hitting a sublime drop shop winner to hold at 2-1. In the upcoming game, the world number six raced away to 0-30, but Djokovic managed to stop the former US Open finalist and the world number one attacked the 26-year-old, leaving an open court for him to hit into. And on his third break chance, he took the lead.
In the eighth game, Nishikori looked to get back on level terms and managed to carve out a break point chance at 30-40, but Djokovic had other ideas and stopped the Japanese by holding. With victory in his sight, Djokovic raced away to love-40 lead on the Nishikori serve, but that lead would soon evaporate in a turn of events. Three match points would soon be saved by Nishikori and a fourth was saved a couple games later. The world number one would get broken for the first time in the tournament and the set was suddenly all square at 5-5. The set, and ultimately match, ended up in the tiebreaker, which was won by Djokovic 7-4 as he booked his spot in the final.
Novak Djokovic produced four aces and two double faults. The Serb won 76 percent first serve points, but struggled on his second only winning 43 percent. Djokovic did manage to fend off 80 percent of break points, while converting only two from seven. The world number one won a total of 40 percent return points and 53 percent total points.
Kei Nishikori served only one ace and hit two double faults. Nishikori won 69 percent first serve points and 49 percent on his second serve. The Japanese was successful in saving break points as he managed to save five from seven, but when it came to converting, he could only managed to take one from five. He won only 33 percent total return points and 47 percent on total points won.