Toronto, July 31 (IANS) World No.6 Kei Nishikori of Japan beat No.5 Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland in straight sets 7-6, 6-1 in the semi-finals of the Rogers Cup tennis tournament at the Aviva Centre here.
The 26 year-old Nishikori overcame a 5-2 deficit in the first set to win in a tie break on Saturday. The opening set lasted 63 minutes and saw Wawrinka fail to convert on four set point opportunities before Nishikori converted on his first set point opportunity, reports Xinhua.
“It was a really tight game. I think he started much better tennis first couple games,” Nishikori said after the match. “He was hitting very good serves and very aggressive. Well, yeah, until 5-3 game.”
Nishikori made quick work in the second set, needing only 25 minutes to secure the win.
After reaching the semi-finals of the same tournament last year, the 26 year-old Japanese will have a chance to capture his first ever ATP Masters 1000 Event, having finished runner-up twice (April 2016 in Miami and May 2014 in Madrid).
He will face World No.1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who defeated Frenchmen Gael Monfils in straight sets 6-3, 6-2 in Saturday’s other semi-final match.
The odds are not in Nishikori’s favor though, as he holds a 2-9 record all-time against the Serbian, including an eight-game winless streak dating back to 2014.
Despite the poor head-to-head results, Nishikori has come close against Djokovic this year. In May, he lost 6-3, 7-6 in the semi-finals of the ATP Masters 1000 Event in Rome. A week later, he pushed the World No.1 even further, a 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 semi-finals loss in ATP Masters 1000 Madrid.
“That was on clay court (Madrid and Rome), so it’s going to be different. But, yeah, those two matches gave me a lot of confidence playing against Novak, for sure,” said an optimistic Nishikori. “I hope I can carry that momentum and hope I can play good tennis again like today.”
After an early exit in Wimbledon, the 29-year-old Djokovic has bounced back with another ATP 1000 Masters finals appearance. He has now reached the finals in 14 of his last 15 events, winning 10 of the last 14.
Since making his Rogers Cup debut in 2007, Djokovic has now reached the finals in Canada five times, winning three of the four finals prior to this year.
A win would move him ahead of Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, who all have three Rogers Cup titles. Only Czech Ivan Lendl has more Rogers Cup titles with six, all won in the 1980s.
Nishikori and Djokovic will face off Sunday afternoon to compete for the title, $6,85,000 winner’s purse and 1000 ATP points.