By Ros Satar

  • Kei Nishikori [21] def. Marin Cilic [7] 2-6 6-4 7-6(5) 4-6 6-4
  • Novak Djokovic [6] def. John Millman 6-3 6-4 6-4
NEW YORK, USA – We will be in for a thrilling encounter as Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori battled in the quarter-finals to reprise their 2014 US Open semi-final roles.

 

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Kei Nishikori [21] def. Marin Cilic [7] 2-6 6-4 7-6(5) 4-6 6-4

In the first of the quarter-finals, we had a rematch of the 2014 quarter-final and this time Kei Nishikori had the fitness and canniness to take the battle to the former champion Marin Cilic.

On that occasion, Nishikori had come through three five-setters in a row from the fourth round to the semi-final, before being quite spent in the final, as Cilic eased to his only Slam title.

This time his progress has been less tortuous, with a four setter against Diego Schwartzman and then a five set cat and mouse battle with Cilic. The diminutive Japanese player was caught on the hop in the first set with Cilic breaking twice on both of his chances to take a lead.

When the rangy Croatian broke again in the second set, he might have thought he was well on the way to an early finish and the locker room but Nishikori rallied and broke twice to nudge into the lead, as he levelled up the match. The momentum stayed with him with a break right at the start of the third set, and he managed to fend off Cilic’s attempts to break in a long game, before probably frustratingly getting broken to love in his next game.

It was a topsy-turvy tie-break with Cilic pegging Nishikori back after losing an early mini-break before taking the lead back and grabbing the lead on his first set point. With the heat rule in effect, Cilic came back at Nishikori, who could not generate any kind of break point chance against the big serving Croatian, as Cilic took us into a decider.

It was Nishikori who got the quicker start with the first break, but Cilic, who has backed up his first Slam with appearances in the Wimbledon final last year, and the Australian Open final this year, managed to get things back on serve, bit Nishikori went on to break for a spot in the semi-final.

Nishikori told reporters: “He started very well. And also, I didn’t make any first serve in the beginning, especially. Well, didn’t feel like I was playing great. I had to stay tough, especially second set.

“I started playing better from 4-2. I tried to swing little more and play aggressive and start working better from 4-2 down.

“I felt like he was playing good tennis, and he gave me some free points, but he was playing great today so it wasn’t easy. But I really happy to win, go through matches like this. It wasn’t easy, and I didn’t feel like I was playing best tennis today, but fought through somehow and gives me big confidence playing semis next round.”

 

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Novak Djokovic [6] def. John Millman 6-3 6-4 6-4

Novak Djokovic in the first round at Roland Garros, 2-018

Novak Djokovic in the first round at Roland Garros, 2-018 | (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

There was a lot of anticipation surrounding this match-up. Although in their last encounter at Queens’ Club, Novak Djokovic handed John Millman a stark lesson, this encounter was far closer than the score-line would suggest.

Since Djokovic’s comeback after elbow surgery, while the frustrations have been evident in his game that wins have not been as smooth as during his period of dominance, honestly why care if you get the ‘W’ beside your name. Djokovic has struggled with the heat and humidity and the concern was that Millman would be able to make this as physical as he had against Roger Federer.

As it was, Djokovic started the more aggressive, quickly jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first set, but Millman was there to keep Djokovic honest, making him work hard, and at one stage saving four break points in one game to try and stay in contention, saving one set point and even getting a first break point chance of his own before Djokovic grabbed the first set.

Millman did his level best to keep Djokovic at bay, saving seven break points over the second set before finally getting broken at the end. There was even finally a reward for his tenacity, having gone down another break at the start of the third set, as he broke back to get on serve in the third set. Djokovic closed in for the kill though with a break and a serve to love to set up his semi-final rematch with Nishikori.

The men’s semi-finals will be played on Friday.

 

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