In Friday’s first men’s singles semifinal at Miami Open, top-seeded Serbian Novak Djokovic didn’t release his hold on the game and won in straight sets against David Goffin, despite the Belgian giving him a tough challenge. Now, Djokovic is just one match away from taking the fifth title in 6 years at Key Biscayne. When the defending champion takes to the court on Sunday, he will have Japan’s Kei Nishikori on the other side. On his part, the Japanese was clinical in his game against the volatile Australian Nick Kyrgios in the second semifinal played late on Friday night. The best part of Nishikori’s game against Kyrgios was keeping the unforced error count to just 8 in winning 119 points. Despite the defeat, at one month short of 21 years of age, Kyrgios came away with the satisfaction of emerging as the youngest player in ATP’s Top-20.
On Friday, Djokovic made a slow start against the 15th seeded David Goffin of Belgium. Though the first six games went on serves, Goffin made Djokovic run around all over the court. It was windy, warm and humid in keeping with the weather conditions of the seaside Key Biscayne. Both Djokovic and Goffin found the playing conditions difficult. Regardless, Djokovic was equal to task against the clean and the relentless Goffin. After Djokovic saved three break points in his opening service game, Goffin broke him in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead. But Djokovic didn’t buckle and broke right back to restore parity. However, the first set was destined to slip into the tiebreak and the two players kept their fights on upper keel until Djokovic produced a perfect lob on set point and Goffin’s backhand volley was stuck in the net. In the second set, it was Djokovic, who broke Goffin in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead. That one break of serve was enough for the world no.1 to win at 7-6, 6-4 and book his place in Sunday’s final against Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
The sixth-seeded Nishikori defeated Australia’s upcoming star Nick Kyrgios in the other semifinal later on Friday night. Just the other day, Nishikori had to save 5 match points in his quarterfinal win over Frenchman Gael Monfils but, against the big-hitting Australian, Nishikori adopted a different strategy. He played a neat game, in which he strove to keep the ball in play and waited for Kyrgios to make mistakes. His strategy worked well in the contest because the Japanese limited his unforced errors to eight and broke the Australian’s serve four times in the match. In contrast, Nishikori dropped his own service just once. Though Kyrgios had progressed to the semifinal without dropping a set in the tournament, he came a cropper against the Japanese’s game based on precision. Nishikori brought the match to an end in an hour and 24 minutes with a clinical 6-3, 7-5 victory.
On Sunday, the pressure will be on Djokovic as he sets out to add a fifth title to those already won in 2007, 2011, 2012, 2014. As for Nishikori, he could match the Serb with nothing at stake for him. Djokovic’s record in 2016 has already reached 27-1 and he would attempt to improve it further. If the Serb wins the final on Sunday, the 28-year-old Djokovic will equal 6 title wins at Miami by Andre Agassi, in addition to reaching another landmark of 28 titles in ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments.
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