The final at the second Masters 1000 event of the season is set in Miami and it features World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and first-time finalist Kei Nishikori.
On Friday in the afternoon heat, Djokovic edged a very tough David Goffin 7-6(5), 6-4 to advance to his seventh Miami final.
“It was windy, it was humid, it was warm,” Djokovic said. “It was like everything was thrown out there. And to overcome those obstacles and conditions was something that I’m proud of. I managed to stay tough in the right moments.”
The Belgian, who led Djokovic by two breaks and 3-0 in Cincinnati last summer, pushed Djokovic again, breaking him in the first set.
“He plays very clean,” Djokovic said of Goffin. “It’s a tennis that is beautiful to watch. Also, I think he improved his serve. I had difficulty reading it. It’s not as powerful as maybe some other guys’, but it’s very precise and efficient. Also, he backs it up with a very efficient first shot after the serve.
“Physically, it was a great battle, with lots of exchanges from the baseline.”
Goffin was appearing in his second straight Masters semifinal after never reaching that deep before this season.
“Against Djokovic, you have to make every point,” Goffin said. “You have to go for the shot on every point. He doesn’t give you anything, so you have to win it. It’s tough, because if you are not there for a few seconds, you lose the game.
“I’ve worked a lot in practice, so maybe that’s why it’s paying off during the match. But for the next tournament and for the rest of this season, of course my confidence will be really high.”
In the evening, Nishikori ended the run of 20-year-old Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 7-5. Nishikori broke early in both sets. But the Australian fought back in the second before losing his serve to end the match.
“Serves, returns, everything worked well,” Nishikori said. “I tried to be aggressive and won a lot of points at the net as well.”
Despite the loss, Kyrgios was appearing in his first career Masters semifinal, the first of what surely will be many. And he’ll move into the Top 20 on Monday.
“He’s just playing such good tennis,” Kyrgios said. “I know his game plan when he plays me, he plays so aggressively. He doesn’t let me dictate points. I was really looking for answers. I was trying to serve and volley a couple of times. But he’s playing great tennis.
“He puts so much behind the ball. He’s not just pushing it back. He can just hit a winner from anywhere. He moves really well and returns well. He’s too good.”
In the final, Djokovic leads Nishikori 6-2 winning the last five most recently at the Australian Open. Nishikori did beat Djokovic memorably in the US Open semifinals on a very hot day in 2014.
Djokovic is bidding to win a record 28th Masters 1000 title while Nishikori is trying to win his very first.
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