Two-time defending champion Kei Nishikori needed to muster up some of his best tennis to overcome his American adversary and arrive at the final of the Memphis Open. He is now one match away from completing the ‘three peat’ at this tournament, and that final obstacle is world No. 15 Kevin Anderson.
The Japanese No. 1 withstood some serious service power from Sam Querrey on Saturday to arrive at his third consecutive final in Memphis. Nishikori rallied from a set down to defeat the American 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(5) in a match that lasted 2 hours and 41 minutes.
“I thought a couple times that I might lose today,” said Nishikori, who will bid for his eighth ATP World Tour crown. “I knew it was going to be tough because I didn’t break any of his serves and he was hitting a lot of aces… It was really tough to make any returns.
“I’m very happy to come to the final again. I’m a little bit tired from playing three tough matches, but it’s just one more match.”
Nishikori will come up against Kevin Anderson in the final, who is seeded second at the event. The South African No. 1 rallied from a set down against Donald Young to defeat the American 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. It was an impressive showing that served to avenge his loss to Young last season, and put Anderson in the running for a third title on the ATP World Tour.
“I thought it was a really tough match,” said Anderson. “There were parts of the match where I didn’t feel like I maybe played my best tennis, but I was able to hang in there.
“I’ve got a shot at winning the title tomorrow and that’s what I came here to do. It feels good to be in the final. I’ve enjoyed this week… I’m going to treat it like any other match. Obviously it’s a final, but I’m just going to focus on what has worked well for me this week.”
This marks the first time that Nishikor and Anderson will meet on the professional tour since 2010, when they crossed paths at the Washington qualifying round. It is just their second meeting overall – their first on the ATP World Tour – and could make for a riveting match-up. Nishikori is competing for his third title in Memphis, while Anderson is looking to notch his third overall title on the tour.
Prediction: Kei Nishikori in Three Sets