Sun, Apr 03, 2016 - Page 18 News List

Djokovic, Nishikori into Miami final

AFP, MIAMI

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates his win over David Goffin of Belarus after their Miami Open semi-final at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on Key Biscayne, Florida, on Friday.

Photo: AFP

World No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic is to face Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the ATP and WTA Miami Open final after straight-set triumphs on Friday in which both were tested.

Djokovic, an 11-time Grand Slam champion whose three titles this year include the Australian Open, downed Belgian 15th seed David Goffin 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.

The 28-year-old Serbian will try to match the career record of six Miami crowns won by Andre Agassi by capturing his third consecutive title at the hardcourt event.

“It is a privilege just to be mentioned alongside Andre Agassi,” Djokovic said.

Sixth seed Nishikori, the 2014 US Open runner-up, downed Australian 24th seed Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 7-5.

“First Miami final, that makes me very happy,” Nishikori said.

Djokovic has a 6-2 career edge over Nishikori, including five wins in a row, most recently in this year’s Australian Open quarter-finals.

“It is going to be tough for sure. He has been playing well,” Nishikori said. “I played him in Australia. I will try to come up with something better.”

Djokovic won his 15th consecutive Miami match and the 29th of his past 30, but only after winning a tense tie-breaker and taking the lone break of the second set, prompting a post-match kissing of the court.

“I wanted to make sure the court feels my love,” Djokovic said. “A little kiss for goodbye and I will see you in two days. I have had so many beautiful memories on that court. It is one of my favorite courts.”

Djokovic improved to 27-1 on the season, which has included his 11th career Grand Slam title and crowns at Doha and Indian Wells.

He could claim the Miami-Indian Wells double for the third year in a row and his 63rd career title today.

DJOKOVIC ‘FORTUNATE’

Squared 4-4 in the tie-breaker, Goffin hit an overhead smash that Djokovic sent back as a lob inside the far baseline to keep the point alive and later took full advantage by winning it with a forehand drop volley winner.

“I was a bit fortunate in the tie-breaker, but I made him play the extra shot,” Djokovic said. “I anticipated where he might smash that ball and he framed it a little bit and that allowed me to get that height. Right place at the right time.”

Goffin added: “I was a little bit tired at the end of the point and it was tough to finish it.”

Goffin, who will jump to a career-best 13th in next week’s rankings, hit a forehand wide to give Djokovic two set points, then saved one on a drop volley winner, but lost the set when the ball deflected off the edge of his racquet as he leaped to reach another Djokovic lob.

“Against Djokovic you have to go for the shot in every point,” Goffin said. “If you are not there for a few seconds you lose the game.”

In the second set, Goffin netted a backhand to hand Djokovic a break for a 4-3 edge and the world No. 1 held twice to triumph after two hours and five minutes.

Djokovic has reached the final in 19 of his past 21 events and in 11 consecutive ATP Masters Series events. He could win a record 28th ATP Masters crown, surpassing the mark he now shares with Rafael Nadal.

NISHIKORI ‘CONFIDENT’

Nishikori broke Kyrgios for a 2-1 edge and held from there, claiming the first set after 29 minutes when the Aussie double faulted away a break.

“My serve just let me down,” Kyrgios said. “I felt rushed out there. I was looking for answers. He was too good.”

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