Finally looking like a star again after an average beginning to his return from injury, Kei Nishikori can add a fourth Masters 1000 final to his resume with victory over Alexander Zverev. With Rafael Nadal likely waiting in the final, Nishikori will probably not win his maiden title at this level but he will be at least back inside the top 30 whatever happens this weekend.
Nishikori picked up a huge win over the second seed Marin Cilic, outlasting the Croatian 6-4 6-7 6-3 to win in just under three hours. He will have been disappointed to have not finished it off much sooner having held match points on serve at 6-4 5-4 but bounced back with a solid final set to secure the victory. “Every match I think I’m improving,” It was a tough match. He was playing very good, especially in the second set. He was playing aggressively,and serving well.” Nishikori said afterwards. He has progressed well in the past few months, having begun his comeback with a Challenger loss to Dennis Novikov back in January.
Zverev was also involved in a thriller to get to this stage, coming from a break down in the deciding set to beat Richard Gasquet 4-6 6-2 7-5. There were a total of 7 breaks in the final set, the final one ending the match after Zverev had saved a break point in the previous game for what turned out to be a massive hold. The German will probably have been disappointed to have got nowhere near to Nadal in their Davis Cup meeting recently but the 9 games won don’t look so bad now after the Spaniard’s week to date. “The third set was very intense, a lot of tight moments. I feel like in the tightest moments we both played the best tennis,” Zverev said. “I’m just happy with my performance tennis-wise, also mentally-wise.”
Zverev won their only meeting in Washington last year and probably goes into this match as the favourite. However, Nishikori has proven he is no pushover on this surface as long as his body is willing to comply.
Prediction – Alexander Zverev in three sets