Madrid, May 8 (IANS) World No.1 Novak Djokovic advanced to the Madrid Open final for the second time in his career with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) victory over Japan’s Kei Nishikori, his fourth consecutive straight-set victory at this year’s event.
The top-seeded Serbian-dominated the majority of the match and was on the verge of victory when he blew a 40-0 lead when serving at 5-4 here on Saturday night, reports Efe.
Nerves played a part as Djokovic double-faulted twice in that game and squandered four match points en route to dropping serve for the first time in the tournament.
Nishikori suddenly had all the momentum, winning 13 of 18 points to go ahead 6-5 on the scoreboard. But Djokovic regained his composure to send the second set to a tie-breaker and then finish the match off in just under two hours.
The Japanese No.6 seed gave Djokovic his toughest battle of the tournament but the Serbian’s superior first serve gave him the edge as he put first balls in play (73 percent to 61 percent) and also won more first-serve points (75 percent to 69 percent).
With the win, the Serbian improved his career head-to-head record against Nishikori to 8-2.
Next, up for Djokovic in Sunday’s final of this clay-court event will be British No.2 seed and defending champion Andy Murray, who defeated Spanish No.5 seed and four-time winner Rafael Nadal 7-5, 6-4 in Saturday’s other semi-final.
Djokovic will be vying for his second Madrid Open title and also look to break a tie with Nadal for most all-time World Tour Masters 1000 titles, with both players now knotted at 28.
Murray will be seeking his third Madrid Open title, the first of which came in 2008 when the tournament was an indoor hard-court event played in the fall.
The Madrid Open is now a key tune-up event for Fench Open, which gets underway on May 22.