Madrid Flashback: Novak Djokovic beats Kei Nishikori to reach final

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Madrid Flashback: Novak Djokovic beats Kei Nishikori to reach final

Novak Djokovic claimed the first Madrid Open crown in 2011, beating Rafael Nadal in the title clash. The Serb suffered early Caja Magica losses in 2012 and 2013 and did not play in the following two seasons. Novak returned to Madrid in style in 2016 as one of the title contenders.

Djokovic toppled the young Croat Borna Coric and Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets to advance into the quarters, where he ousted Milos Raonic to find himself in the semis. Seeking a place in the first Madrid final in five years, Djokovic ousted Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-6 in just under two hours.

It was their tenth meeting and the eighth triumph for the Serb, the seventh in a row after that 2014 US Open defeat. Novak ousted one of the most consistent players at Caja Magica in the last couple of years and earned a chance to play for the record-breaking 29th Masters 1000 title against Andy Murray.

Novak Djokovic defeated Kei Nishikori in the 2016 Madrid Open semi-final.

They both had more winners than unforced errors, and Novak forged his triumph in the forced errors department. He had the upper hand in the shortest exchanges up to four strokes and delivered better tennis when it mattered the most to seal the deal in straight sets.

Nishikori toppled world no. 1 in the most extended exchanges, but it was not enough to keep him safe. He converted one out of five break chances and gave serve away twice to propel Novak into the title clash. Three of those Kei's five opportunities on the return came in the encounter's first game, and Novak denied them to avoid an early setback.

Djokovic earned a break at 4-3 when Nishikori sent a forehand long and secured the opener with a hold at 30 for 6-3 after 40 minutes. The Japanese fended off two break chances at the beginning of the second set. He repelled two more at 2-2 with winners before Djokovic landed a backhand winner to open a set and a break advantage.

A former champion saved a break point at 4-3 with a forehand winner to remain in front and served for the victory at 5-4. Staying focused, Nishikori defended four match points and pulled the break back to prolong the encounter.

Still, his efforts were in vain, as Novak grabbed the tie break 7-4 to move over the top after some scary moments in the closing stages.