Andy Murray was in control for much of his match against Kei Nishikori at the US Open, that is until an inexplicable gong-like sound went off with the Scot holding break point for a 2-1 lead in the fourth.
The chair umpire immediately called a let and the point was replayed and Nishikori saved the break chance and went on to win seven straight games to go up 2-0 in the fifth before Murray finally got his head back right.
Murray still fought but Nishikori broke against at 5-5 and closed it out for a 4-hour, 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 victory.
“It was really difficult match,” Nishikori said. “I didn’t quite start well and lost 6-1. I felt it was really quick and I was rushing a little bit and missing too much unforced errors.
The match began under sunlight, but a second rain delay early in the second prompted the tournament to close the roof at 3-3. And Nishikori admitted the stoppage and opportunity to talk to coach Michael Chang did him good.
“After rain delay I think I improve little bit with my coach, and I tried to change a little bit my tennis and start working a little bit better,” added Nishikori. “I started get my rhythm back. Yeah, many breaks today.
Especially fifth set it was really tough. I was up 4-3, 40- love and lost the game. So there was many up and downs, but I tried to calm. I think that’s the most important thing I did today. Even though there was many up and downs I tried to stay tough.
:Yeah, last couple games I took little chance, and, yeah, win the whole thing. So it was really tight game, but happy to win today.”
Murray, who had been nearly unbeatable for much of the summer, suffered just his second loss in 28 matches with Ivan Lendl back in his camp.
“Obviously I was in a good position up a set,” Murray said.
He added the roof closure benefitted Nishikori.
“I think definitely under the roof he was able to dictate more of the points,” insisted Murray. “He was playing a bit closer to the baseline than me and taking the ball on a little bit more. You know, at times I was obviously doing more of the running, you know, whereas I think in the first set and a half and when we played in the Olympics, you know, that was the other way around.”
Murray falls short of returning to the US Open semifinals for a fourth straight year since winning it in 2012. But he was pleased with how the summer went.
“If someone had offered me the summer that I have had before Wimbledon, I probably would have signed for that,” Murray said. “I’m not going to have the best perspective on things right this minute, but, you know, after a few days, you know, away and stuff, I would imagine I’d be very happy with how I have done and, you know, learn from this match today and the summer as a whole, because, you know, it’s been tough. It’s been a hard summer.”
Nishikori is into his second Grand Slam final four and in it he’ll face Stan Wawrinka who stayed up late to stop the run of former champion Juan Martin del Potro 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in match that ended about 1:20am ET.
Wawrinka overcame a break in the first then cruised to the finish line on the end over a weary del Potro. He uncorked 53 winners to 45 unforced compared to del Potro who hit 28 winners to 49 unforced.
Del Potro won just 6 total points on his second serve the last two sets while Wawrinka lost just 3 points over that span on his first serve.
The Swiss is into his third semifinal at the US Open in the last four years. And it’s his second semifinal at the Slam of the season after the French Open.
After four wrist surgeries, Del Potro was playing his first US Open since 2013.
So the final four is set and it’s exactly the same as it was in Toronto where Novak Djokovic beat Gael Monfils and Nishikori knocked out Wawrinka.
The semifinals will be played Friday at 3pm ET.
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