Nishikori takes revenge on Cilic
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[September 06, 2018]
By Steve Keating
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Kei Nishikori
advanced to the U.S. Open semi-finals on Wednesday with a grinding
2-6 6-4 7-6(5) 4-6-6-4 win over Marin Cilic, gaining a small measure
of revenge on the man who crushed his grand slam dream in the 2014
The victory also completed a historic day for Japanese tennis with
Naomi Osaka routing Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko 6-1 6-1 and the pair
became the first Japanese man and woman to reach the semi-finals of
the same grand slam.
"It's great to see," said Nishikori. "I think she can win a title
now, even though grand slam. I feel it is a big chance for her. I am
also happy for myself."
It was a much different outcome from 2014 when the big-hitting Cilic
floored the Japanese counter-puncher 6-3 6-3 6-3 to claim the U.S.
Cilic has made two grand slam finals since but Nishikori has never
been back and will now take on either twice U.S. Open champion Novak
Djokovic or unseeded Australian John Millman for a spot in Sunday's
It has already been a successful return to Flushing Meadows for
Nishikori who missed the U.S. Open last year with a wrist injury
that saw his ranking plunge and put him on the comeback trail that
included playing Challenger-level tournaments.
But after reaching the final in Monte Carlo, the French Open fourth
round and the Wimbledon quarter-finals, Nishikori believes an
elusive first grand slam is within reach.
"Yeah, always excited to play Novak because it's great challenge for
me," said Nishikori about the possibility of facing Djokovic, should
the sixth-seeded Serb beat Millman in the quarter-finals.
"Always exciting to play him. Especially after coming from injury, I
think I'm enjoying this challenge."
[to top of second column]
Kei Nishikori of Japan wins his quarter-final match against Marin
Cilic of Croatia on day ten of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament
at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit:
Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY SPORTS
Initially, it looked like the match might follow a similar storyline
from 2014 when seventh seeded Cilic took the opening set from a
The Japanese sputtered along until earning his first break chance at
2-4 in the second set and was able to convert to get back on serve.
As Nishikori began to find his rhythm Cilic started to misfire and
the Japanese 21st seed collecting a second consecutive break on a
double fault to surge in front 5-4 before holding serve to level the
The tide continued to turn in the third as Nishikori chipped away at
the faltering Cilic with a third successive break.
Cilic did level at 4-4 but his erratic play continued as Nishikori
stole the set with the help of two double faults in the tiebreak.
The Croat rebounded to take the fourth and the rollercoaster ride
continued into the fifth with Nishikori grabbing the advantage with
a break at 3-1 and taking Cilic's serve again with a blistering
return winner to close out victory.
(Editing by Ed Osmond/Greg Stutchbury)
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