WASHINGTON: Japan’s Kei Nishikori avenged his loss to Marin Cilic in last year’s US Open final, defeating the Croatian 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to reach the ATP and WTA Washington Open final.
The 25-year-old Asian number one rallied to oust the reigning US Open champion and advanced to Sunday’s title match against US eighth seed John Isner, who fired 31 aces and saved three match points to edge American Steve Johnson 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (11/9).
Fifth-ranked Nishikori improved to 6-3 all-time against Cilic in their first meeting since he missed a chance to become the first Asian man to win a Grand Slam title by losing last year’s Flushing Meadows final.
“It’s great to have revenge,” Nishikori said. “Today I was playing very much better against Cilic. It was important to play well. Hopefully I will keep it going.”
Isner beat Nishikori four months ago in a Miami quarterfinal in their only prior meeting.
“Everything sort of clicked for me that day,” Isner said. “I played extremely well. That was my best match of the year. I’m probably going to have to bring that again tomorrow.”
Isner seeks his 11th career ATP title after winning last week in Atlanta while Nishikori seeks his 10th career title after crowns at Memphis and Barcelona this year.
“It was a great win for me,” Nishikori said. “Overall, I’m playing well, very aggressive. The last two sets I was very happy with my tennis.”
Despite the defeat, eighth-ranked Cilic felt the week was a solid start on the path to defending his US Open crown.
“Overall I’m pretty satisfied with the way I was playing,” Cilic said. “Definitely it has given me some vision of what I’m going to focus on the next days and weeks.
“In my next match I will try and be more focused on my serve, to be more deadly.”