Kei Nishikori to take on John Isner in the Citi Open final
Second seed Kei Nishikori beat Marin Cilic 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the semifinals of the Citi Open.
The Japanese avenged his loss to the Croat at the 2014 US Open final, which Cilic won in straight sets. It was Cilic who got off the blocks early converting a solitary break point opportunity to take the opening set. Nishikori did have couple of break point chances of his own, which he failed to convert.
Cilic hit 5 aces and won 77% of his service points in the first set.
Nishikori applied more pressure on Cilic’s serve in the second set that resulted in two breaks of serve for the World No. 5. Cilic managed to win just 42% of his service points and was unable to capitalitize on four break point opportunities.
In the third set, Nishikori leed 3-1 and 4-2, before Cilic evened scores at 4-4. The No. 2 seed broke Cilic again to win the next two games and book a place in Sunday’s final.
“It was a tough three sets, but I showed some good tennis,” Nishikori told Washington Post. “It was great to get revenge today, and hopefully I can keep it going tomorrow.”
Cilic felt that Nishikori took the match away from him from the second set.
“The first set was very similar to the match we played last year, and that was my idea of how to play,” Cilic said. “From the second set onwards, it was a different game.”
Nishikori will take on American John Isner in the final. Isner got the better of his compatriot Steve Johnson 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (9).
Isner struck 9 aces and won 75% points on his serve in the first set. Johnson turned the tables in the second set winning 80% points on his serve and more importantly converting his only break point opportunity to level the match at one set apiece.
The third set was very close with no breaks of serve. Isner hit 17 aces and won 81% of his service points, while Johnson won 82% on his serve. The tie-break had to decide Sunday’s finalist. It was Johnson who brought up two match points at 6-4 in the breaker. He missed his first serve allowing Isner to win a 15-shot rally and save a match point.
Isner then hit an ace to even scores at 6-6 in the changeover. At 10-9 in the breaker, Isner hit an unreturnable seve to move into his third Citi Open final. Isner hasn’t won a title in Washington.
“I was glad he missed the first serve at 6-4 and allowed me to get into the point,” Isner told Washington Post. “It was probably one of the longest rallies we had all match, and I was able to win that one and then, boom, I hit an ace right where I wanted to hit it, right on the line. And then . . . from 4-6 or 5-6 on, my serve never came back.”
Isner has won the only meeting with Nishikori at the Miami Masters earlier this year. If Nishikori goes on win the Citi Open, he will climb up to No. 4 in the ATP rankings.