ThrowbackTimes Madrid: Novak Djokovic downs Kei Nishikori to reach final



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ThrowbackTimes Madrid: Novak Djokovic downs Kei Nishikori to reach final

Novak Djokovic claimed the first Madrid Open title in 2011, beating Rafael Nadal in the title clash and suffering early losses in 2012 and 2013. The Serb didn't play in Madrid in 2014 and 2015, returning stronger in 2016 as one of the title contenders.

Novak toppled the young Croat Borna Coric and Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets to advance into the quarters, where he beat 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 to remain on the title course.

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, having the upper hand in the shortest exchanges up to four strokes and delivering 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 wasn't enough to keep him safe, converting one out of five break chances and giving serve away twice to propel Novak into the title clash. Three of those five opportunities on the return for Kei came in the encounter's first game, denied by Novak, who avoided an early setback.

The Serb 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, repelling two more at 2-2 with winners before Djokovic landed a backhand winner to secure a break and open a set and a break advantage.

Former champion saved a break point at 4-3 with a forehand winner to remain in front, serving for the win at 5-4. Staying focused, Kei defended four match points to pull the break back and prolong the encounter until the tie break that Djokovic won 7-4 to move over the top after some scary moments in the closing stages.