Sun, Aug 09, 2015 - Page 19 News List

Nishikori, Cilic to meet in Citi Open semi-final


Japan’s Kei Nishikori returns to Australia’s Sam Groth in their Citi Open quarter-final match in Washington on Friday.

Photo: EPA

Exactly 11 months after meeting in the US Open final, Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori are to face each other again on a hard court.

The rematch was scheduled for yesterday’s semi-finals of the Citi Open, a tune-up event for the year’s last Grand Slam tournament.

Reigning US Open champion Cilic moved into the final four in Washington for the first time since 2010 by beating 18-year-old Alexander Zverev 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) on Friday.

Earlier, second-seeded Nishikori withstood 15 aces and managed to break Sam Groth’s big serve twice for a 6-4, 6-4 victory.

On Sept. 8 last year, Cilic beat Nishikori in straight sets at Flushing Meadows, the only Grand Slam title match for either. They have not played each other since.

“Emotions-wise, it’s going to be completely different. For the Slam final, we were both pretty nervous,” third-seeded Cilic said. “I’m going to, for sure, take out some things, some critical things, that were working for me to be able to get the win.”

“For me, it’s great motivation to play Marin,” Nishikori said.

“I’m sure that I am a better player than last year,” added Nishikori, who is the only Japanese man to participate in a major final. “I think I have more patience and [am] a more solid baseline player and I try to be a little more aggressive than before.”

This is the first time the Citi Open field included both men’s finalists from the previous year’s US Open.

On the other half of the draw, eighth-seeded John Isner — twice the runner-up in Washington — delivered 20 aces and defeated Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. Isner’s 52-game streak of service holds ended with a break at love to drop the second set, but he quickly rebounded, grabbing a 3-0 lead in the third.

In an all-US semi-final, Isner is to face 55th-ranked Steve Johnson, who beat yet another US player, 15th-seeded Jack Sock, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 in Friday’s last match.

In the women’s quarter-finals, 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur advanced when Monica Niculescu stopped playing because of a left abdominal strain while trailing 4-0.

Stosur was to face Sloane Stephens yesterday. Stephens picked up a 6-4, 6-4 victory over 19-year-old wild-card entry Louisa Chirico on Friday.

The other women’s semi-final yesterday was to be No. 1-seeded Ekaterina Makarova against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Marakova beat No. 6 Irina-Camelia Begu 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, while Pavlyuchenkova edged Christina McHale 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7/5).

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