Novak Djokovic looks to extend his 12 match winning streak at slams on Friday night when he plays Kei Nishikori for a spot in the final of the US Open. The Serbian has grown in stature as the tournament has gone on, justifying himself as the tournament favourite. Nishikori will hope to make it an even better weekend for Japan after Naomi Osaka made the final in the women’s draw.
Nishikori, once famed for his elite record in 5th sets, delivered a big performance once more to see off the threat of Marin Cilic. A stellar return game up 5-4* in the fifth saw him finally close out a 2-6 6-4 7-6 4-6 6-4 victory in just over four hours. It’s his third semi final or better at the US Open, a feat he has not managed once in any of the other three slams despite making another 6 quarter finals across the other 3. Despite this, he clearly feels there is room for improvement. “I didn’t feel like I was playing my best tennis today but fought through somehow and it gives me big confidence playing semis next round.” he said.
Djokovic’s win against John Millman was far more routine but it was not as straight forward as the 6-3 6-4 6-4 scoreline would suggest. He needed to battle for just under three hours in the New York heat, often being wasteful on big points – going just 4 of 20 on break point in particular. The Serbian has backed up his Cincinnati title with this run to extend his winning streak overall to 11 as he nudges closer to the very top spots in the ATP World Tour rankings. “You’ve got to kind of find the right balance between being patient but constructive in the point, but at the same time, be aggressive and take the chance when you have a shorter ball. It’s easier said than done, especially these kind of conditions.” he said on the match.
Nishikori and Djokovic have played here before with the 21st seed picking up a surprise win in the 2014 semi final. “He’s very solid from baseline. He doesn’t have many weakness. He has, you know, great backhand and forehand, too. He can be aggressive and [his] serve, he got better, too.” Nishikori assessed of his opponent. Since then, Djokovic has won 13 in a row with 8 of them coming in straight sets. It’s a match up he has long dominated and there seems little reason to suggest there will be a change on this occasion.
Prediction – Novak Djokovic in straight sets