An unexpected semi-final is scheduled to take place at the Sony Open between second seed Novak Djokovic and Japanese No. 1 Kei Nishikori. The two are tied in the head-to-head series at 1-1, with with Nishikori winning their most recent contest nearly three years ago at the Basel Indoor Open. Check out the Djokovic vs Nishikori H2H.
World No. 2 Novak Djokovic secured his 12th professional victory over longtime rival Andy Murray, finishing the contest 7-5, 6-3 in relatively comfortable fashion. The Serb appeared more comfortable at the start of the match, managing to put Murray under pressure in the fourth game, yet they remained on serve until the latter stages of the set. It was not until Djokovic hit two consecutive double faults to gift Murray with a break point, that it appeared that the tide had shifted. After the second seed escaped the game unscathed, he proceeded to break Murray to close out the set. 7-5.
While Murray appeared to have found new confidence in the second set, hitting some spectacular shots to lead 3-2, it was short lived, as the Briton would not win any more games during the match. Djokovic would break ahead and secure the victory 6-3, hitting a total of 7 aces and winning 72% of his first serve points. The contest lasted a total of 90 minutes.
“In the second, even when I was broken, I felt like I still have chances and I still believe that I could win in straight sets,” said Djokovic. “I think I was calmer in the important moments where he wasn’t. He lost his composure, I think, and made unforced errors and allowed me to win.”
Djokovic is looking to win his 42nd title on the tour, as well as achieving the Indian Wells-Miami title double for a second time in his career.
Roger Federer was in fine form early in his night session quarter-final contest against Kei Nishikori, with the two remaining on serve through the first six games before the Swiss No. 2 pushed ahead to sweep the following three games to close out the set. The second set would prove to be a tighter affair, as Federer would twice break ahead, only to find himself unable to consolidate his breaks. He would continue to be sloppy for the remainder of the set, hitting twice as many unforced errors in the second (15), and eventually lost the set 7-5 following a poor service game.
With tensions rising on Stadium court, the two competitors continued their; gruelling battle in the deciding set, with neither willing to surrender their serve through the first nine games of the match. Federer came out to serve at 4-5 down, and quickly dropped to 0-40 on his serve. He saved the first two match points but lost the final point to send Nishikori to his second Masters 1000 semi-final.
This marks the third time that Djokovic and Nishikori will meet on the professional tour. Having split their previous two matches, it will be interesting to see who has the advantage in the rubber match. Nishikori won their most recent match-up, yet it took place nearly three years ago near the end of a hectic season for the then-world No. 1. The edge lies with Djokovic, who has had a strong week in Miami and is coming off a title win at Indian Wells, which will have added to his confidence.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic in Three Sets