Nishikori seeks revenge in Toronto final
TORONTO: Novak Djokovic and Japan’s Kei Nishikori both powered through in straight sets on Saturday at the ATP Toronto Masters to set up a repeat of a high-profile spring final.
Top seed Djokovic dismissed Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-2 in 74 minutes, winning the 14th of his last 15 matches at Masters 1000 events.
Nishikori took advantage of a fade in form from Stan Wawrinka as Asia’s top player reached the title match with a 7-6 (8/6), 6-1 win.
Third seed Nishikori lost to Djokovic for the title in Miami in early April.
“It’s going to be interesting. I haven’t beat Novak for a long time on hard court. In Miami he kind of dominated the game. So I hope I can get revenge this time,” Nishikori said.
Djokovic found his game in perfect order as he stopped the victory run of tenth seeded Monfils.
“This was my best match of the week,” said Djokovic, whose recent form has been patchy. “It came at the right time.
“Gael has been in terrific touch, winning Washington last week. He’s won most of his matches here comfortably. I had to stick with it to win this one.
“I’m very pleased with how I played.”
Djokovic had to save two break points in first service game, but after losing serve in the third game on a double fault, he recovered in the next game to level at 2-2.
The 29-year-old solidified a 4-2 lead from a love break of the fading Frenchman, and lined up three set points three games later. He converted on the first after 37 minutes.
Djokovic began the second set with a break of an error-prone opponent and was never threatened as he streaked to victory.
Swiss second seed Wawrinka’s game went away during the tiebreaker, allowing Nishikori to move into his second Masters 1000 final of 2016.
Nishikori was caught on the back foot in the early stages as Wawrinka secured an early break of serve, only to lose it in the ninth game of the opening set.
With the battle heading into a tiebreaker, the double Grand Slam champion Swiss took a 3-1 lead. But that slowly slipped away as his 37 unforced errors mounted.
The persistent Nishikori held his serve as Wawrinka missed on a pair of set points in the decider, with the Japanese earning the set on his first opportunity from a Wawrinka forehand wide.
The second seed was all about the Asian ace as Wawrinka’s game evaporated.
Nishikori closed it out on the first of three match points.
“I just tried to concentrate in the tiebreaker,” Nishikori said. “I played a point at a time.
“I took confidence into the second set, tried to be aggressive on returns and stood farther back than usual.”
Wawrinka now stands 3-2 in the series while Nishikori continues to gain confident as he plays for the first time since Wimbledon. The Japanese player now has 40 wins this season.
“It was tough to play Kei today, there were tough condition, quite windy, fast. I had a lot of opportunity to take the set. I didn’t,” Wawrinka said.
“I should have played better. That’s it.
“But to make semi-finals in a Masters 1000 here on hard court where I never really played well on fast hard court — it’s a good tournament. There are many things that I can be happy with.”