New York, September 6: A wonderful US Open for Japan continued as Kei Nishikori edged out Marin Cilic in another epic quarter-final at Flushing Meadows to emulate Naomi Osaka and reach the semi-finals in New York.
Less than 24 hours on from Rafael Nadal's unforgettable victory over Dominic Thiem, Arthur Ashe Stadium played host to a gruelling five-setter between the two players who contested the 2014 men’s final.
Cilic triumphed in straight sets four years ago, but Nishikori gained a measure of revenge on Wednesday (September 5) by edging a seesaw contest 2-6 6-4 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 after four hours and eight minutes.
As a result, Japan will be represented in both the last four of the men's and women's singles draws at a grand slam for the first time in the Open era.
KEIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII #USOpen— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@Naomi_Osaka_) 5 September 2018
All three of Nishikori's slam semi-final appearances have occurred in New York and this run will be all the sweeter for the fact he missed last year's US Open through injury. He will now face Novak Djokovic or John Millman on Friday.
Cilic dominated the first set on Wednesday, connecting superbly with powerful groundstrokes, and soon moved into a 4-2 lead in the second.
Yet there was a dramatic and somewhat unexpected shift in momentum as Nishikori reeled off four games in a row to level the match before also claiming an early break in set three, maintaining a perfect record of taking every chance he was getting on the Cilic serve.
Cilic responded strongly, noticeably raising his intensity, but the Croatian's serve broke down at a crucial moment as the set was decided in a tie-break.
Having recovered from 3-1 down to lead 4-3 in the breaker, Cilic double-faulted twice in succession and another missed first serve proved costly at set point down as Nishikori pounced on the second delivery with a backhand return winner.
Back came Cilic again, his frequent pressure on the Nishikori serve eventually yielding reward to ensure the match went the distance.
Yet it was Nishikori who claimed two breaks to one in a tense decider, which saw him pegged back from 4-1 up before getting the job done.