Since their 2014 semifinal meeting at the US Open, Novak Djokovic has not lost to Kei Nishikori in 13 consecutive meetings. The Japanese number one got the better of the Serb that day en route to his first major final. Djokovic looked to exact revenge against the top-ranked Asian player, who is once again fighting for a place in a Major final while the sixth seed makes his 11th consecutive semifinal appearance in Flushing Meadows.
Eventually, it was Djokovic who moved into the eighth US Open final of his career, setting up a blockbuster meeting with Juan Martin del Potro in a highly-anticipated final. The Serbian triumphed 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 after two hours and 22-minutes of play, breaking serve on four occasions while erasing all two break points he faced throughout the encounter.
Sole break gifts Djokovic the opening set
It was the near-perfect start for Djokovic who held comfortably and had four break point opportunities after Nishikori committed a slew of unforced errors. He converted on the fifth after Nishikori hit a forehand wide. The former world number one managed to easily consolidate the break with yet another routine service hold, asserting his dominance out on the court.
Even though Nishikori ultimately managed to get on the board with a strong mix of shots in the fourth game, Djokovic still seemed to be too much for the 21st seed. Impressive serving and solid baseline work helped Djokovic to maintain his one-break advantage, while Nishikori had absolutely no chances on the return.
Nishikori found himself in trouble once more but edged a tricky service game which saw him being dragged to deuce. Attempting to stay in contention, the Japanese fended off an incoming surge from the Serbian and held from 0-30 down to lessen the deficit. However, Djokovic was just simply flawless on serve, closing out the first set 6-3 with an ace on his first set point.
Djokovic grabs the second set
The second set saw more opportunities surfacing but neither of them was able to take them. Djokovic rode on his momentum and dug for four break points in the opening game, but Nishikori came up with some inspired play and impressively saved himself from the brink to hold serve and gain the confidence he needed.
He then proceeded to earn his first break points of the match, but consecutive unforced errors in baseline rallies ruined his rhythm and allowed Djokovic to escape narrowly as well. Nishikori certainly made several amendments to his tactics, and the biggest and most helpful change was definitely moving up to the net on more occasions, closing out the points there.
Djokovic earned himself triple break points in the fifth game but Nishikori was able to peg back with a series of good serves, but nervy unforced errors once again proved costly as the Serbian was finally able to draw the first blood and make the first breakthrough in the set.
It was too good from Djokovic on his serve, with Nishikori unable to find any chances on them. With neither of them able to make a real impact on the return since the break, the 2016 champion eventually served out the second set 6-4 for a two-set lead.
Djokovic seals the win
Although Nishikori was putting up a decent performance and fighting to stay in the match, he produced more unforced errors than usual and all Djokovic needed was just a lapse in focus from the Japanese to capitalize on his chances. In the previous sets, just one poor service game and Nishikori found himself on the losing end on both occasions.
Djokovic broke serve early in the deciding set and looked set to cross the finishing line without a hassle. Nishikori was giving it his all throughout the match, saving 11 break points but just faltered during the important moments, losing three of those break points, one in each set. A backhand winner helped the 21st seed to save yet another break point, and claim a consolation hold as he held for 2-3.
Completely losing the plot, Nishikori committed another backhand error — this time it cost him yet another break as Djokovic earned the golden opportunity to serve out the match. After just 142 minutes of play, the Serbian closed out the win with a terrific backhand winner, sealing his spot in his eighth US Open final.