(September 6, 2014) Under brutal heat and humidity, Japan’s Kei Nishikori became the first man from Asia to reach a major final, when on Saturday afternoon, the 24-year-old shocked top player Novak Djokovic 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3 at the US Open.
“It’s just amazing, amazing feeling to beat the No. 1 player,” Nishikori said after the match in an on-court interview.
“I expected him to be able to play another five-setter because he had two days off,” Djokovic said of Nishikori’s stamina. “He hasn’t played before this tournament, so he had a big break. He could prepare himself for this tournament. He played some great tennis. I congratulate him for the effort. He was the better player today.”
Nishokori came into the semifinals having played two marathon five-set matches against top 5 players. In the fourth round the 10th seed stopped fifth seed Milos Raonic in a match which ended at 2:26 a.m. on Thursday morning. In his quarterfinal, Nishikori defeated reigning Australian Open champions and third seed Stan Wawrinka. Nishikori played more 81/2 hours combining those two matches.
“That second set my game today was not even close to what I wanted it to be,” said the Serb. “A lot of unforced errors, a lot of short balls. Just wasn’t myself.”
“I don’t want to talk about conditions,” Djokovic continued. “It’s same for both of us. I think he just played better in these conditions than I did. I just wasn’t managing to go through the ball in the court. You know, I wasn’t in the balance. Unforced errors. Even when the ball gets back to his part of the court it’s pretty short; he takes advantage of it. On the other side I didn’t. That’s it.”
“Well, this is definitely huge for Japan,” Djokovic commented. “It’s a big country. Over a hundred million people. This can definitely be a great encouragement for tennis in that country. He’s been around for last couple of years. He’s been making a lot of success. But playing finals of a Grand Slam and now fighting for title is definitely something different. You know, he has gotten to another level, and I’m sure that people will praise him.”
Nishikori will face Roger Federer or Marin Cilic in Monday’s final.
More to follow.