In the late night match at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, the Center Court crowd saw Kei Nishikori put in a good performance against Dominic Thiem, defeating the rising Austrian 6-3, 6-4. The Japanese will face Novak Djokovic for a place in Sunday's final.
Strong finish from Nishikori
With the match underway following two holds of serves, the third game saw a break point chance in favor of Thiem at advantage, which he took hitting a cross-court forehand to get the break. The following game would see the Japanese try and break back, gaining two break points, however, Thiem saved both of them and held for 3-1 to get off to an impressive start. Nishikori held his next service game for 2-3.
The momentum began to swing in favor of the world number six in the sixth game and with the score at 15-40, Nishikori put away the point and broke to get back on level terms at 3-3. He consolidated and moved in front for the first time since the opening service game. The 26-year-old continued to grow into the match and with the Austrian making a number of unforced errors, it then led to break point for Nishikori at 30-40. The 2014 US Open finalist broke and in the following game served an ace to take the first set 6-3.
Late break seals victory for Nishikori
Nishikori looked to get off to a quick start in the set and went up love-30 on Thiem, but the Austrian managed to claw back and take the game to get the second set underway. Nishikori also held his serve, and at 30-40 in the following game, he once again failed to get ahead after Thiem saved the point. Not long after would the Japanese have another break point. But once again, the 22-year-old erased it with a big wide serve--which then left an open court for him to hit into--and ultimately hold for 2-1. The upcoming game would see Thiem with his first break point of the game at 15-40 following a net cord that went his way.
However, Nishikori then went on to win three straight points as he held on. The break point opportunities continued to come and go in this set and with Thiem having to work the hardest out the two players, he would face another. In total, the Austrian would go on to save three break points in the game as he went 3-2 up. The next five games saw comfortable holds of serve, with the set going down to the wire at 5-5. The upcoming game would be the most crucial as Nishikori broke to love to go 6-5 up and with a chance to serve for the match. Having failed to break the Japanese at 30-40, Nishikori then finished off Thiem and book his spot in the semifinal against Novak Djokovic.
Nishikori could only manage one ace while Thiem served one ace and one double fault. The Japanese star was comfortable on serve winning 71 percent on his first and 62 percent on his second. The 22-year-old managed to win 61 percent on his first serve, but that would drop down to 48 percent in his second.
Nishikori saved 80 percent break points and converted on 30 percent with Thiem saving 70 percent and only managing to convert one from five. Nishikori overall was poor on his returns as he only managed to win 39 percent on his first and 52 percent on his second. The 26-year-old did go on to win 56 percent total points.