Kei Nishikori and Novak Djokovic square off in the 2014 US Open semifinals on Saturday.
Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese male tennis player to advance to a major semifinal since the Open Era. Nishikori has quickly become the talk of the tournament after defeating Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka on short rest, both in five set matches. In his most recent win, Nishikori won 76 percent of his first serve points, averaged a first serve speed of 109 mph and won 78 percent of his net points. Nishikori has hit a total of 94 winners in his last two matches and has won 75 percent of his first serve points or better in four of his five matches. Kei Nishikori is on fire now that he’s finally healthy, and he’s just one victory away from appearing in his first major final of his career.
Novak Djokovic is one win away from returning to his fifth straight US Open final. Djokovic has cruised to this point in the tournament and has only lost one set along the way, a set in which came in his most recent win over Andy Murray. In Djokovic’s most recent victory, he won 71 percent of his net points, hit 46 winners and averaged a first serve speed of 113 mph. However, Djokovic would be the first to admit that he didn’t play the cleanest game with 46 unforced errors and only 63 percent of his first serve in play, totals that were both his worst of the tournament. Still, Novak Djokovic continues to put relentless pressure on his opponents and seems to be in great form heading into this match. Djokovic hasn’t lost a major semifinal match since the 2013 French Open.
These two players have faced off three times and Novak Djokovic leads the series, 2-1. However, their most recent, which took place this year in the Miami Masters, resulted in a withdraw from Nishikori. In reality, these two have only faced off twice and both matches took place in 2011 or later. Kei Nishikori beat Djokovic in their only meeting on hard court, which was a 2011 match in Basel.
I picked Nishikori to beat Raonic and Wawrinka, and I’m not going to stop now. Call me crazy, but I love Nishikori’s form and think his athleticism and shot making ability is going to give Djokovic fits. It also helps that Nishikori will have two full days to rest and prepare for this match. If Kei can beat two top 10 players in nearly back-to-back days, I like his chances to do it one more time heading into a match 100 percent rested.
Nishikori is really about to shock the tennis world.