Japanese becomes first Asian man to reach GS title match| MENAFN.COM

Tuesday, 28 June 2022 09:39 GMT

Japanese becomes first Asian man to reach GS title match


(MENAFN- Arab Times) NEW YORK Sept 6 (AFP): Japan's Kei Nishikori became the first Asian man to reach a Grand Slam final when he swept past seven-time major winner Novak Djokovic in the US Open semi-finals on Saturday. The 10th seed braved on-court temperatures nudging the 40-degree mark to clinch a famous 6-4 1-6 7-6 (7/4) 6-3 victory over the world number one. Nishikori the first Japanese man since 1918 to reach the semi-finals in New York goes on to face either 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer or Croatia's Marin Cilic in Monday's championship match. His victory over Wimbledon champion Djokovic will go down as one of the sport's greatest shocks. The 27-year-old Serb was the 2011 champion in New York was playing in his eighth successive US Open semi-final and bidding for a sixth final his 15th overall at the majors. The top seed was also looking to make his third Grand Slam final of 2014. In contrast prior to Saturday the 24-year-old Nishikori's best effort had been a run to the quarter-finals of the 2012 Australian Open. 'I don't know what's going on' said a breathless Nishikori. 'I was a little bit tight especially as it was my first semi-final in a Grand Slam but it's just an amazing feeling to beat the number one player. 'It was tough conditions it was a little heavy and humid but I guess I love to play long matches.' Nishikori said that the key was to forget about the one-sided second set. 'He started to play much better very consistent and more aggressive. I tried to forget about the second set and tried to concentrate again.' The Florida-based star also praised the work of coach Michael Chang a Grand Slam winner with the French Open title in 1989. 'He's been helping me a lot. We've been working well so that's why I'm here.' He added: 'I hope it's big news in Japan. Even though it's 4 o'clock in the morning I hope everybody's up watching.' Despite playing back-to-back five-setters over eight and half hours to get to the semi-final 10th seed Nishikori showed no signs of fatigue breaking for 2-1 in the opener.   The world number one retrieved it immediately but the Japanese star pouncing on the Djokovic second serve took the crucial next break for 4-3. The set was wrapped up in 39 minutes on an oddly subdued but sweltering Arthur Ashe Stadium when the top seed netted a service return. Djokovic however shrugged off his lethargy breaking in the fourth and sixth games on his way to levelling the semi-final with a sixth ace securing the second set. Nishikori threatening to wilt in the heat had to save four break points in an 11-minute third game of the third set which went to seven deuces. He then conjured up a break for 5-3 courtesy of a backhand pass and a stylish forehand return winner off a 120mph first serve.   But he cracked when trying to serve out the set his second double fault handing the break straight back to the Serb. As the on-court temperatures shot up Nishikori went 4/0 and 5/2 in the tiebreak and claimed the set when Djokovic went limply wide with a weary forehand. Nishikori then turned the screw breaking for 1-0 in the fourth set and fending off three break points in the next for 2-0. And that was almost that. Down and almost out Djokovic was broken again in the ninth game when he sent a forehand long a shot which rocketed Nishikori into the record books.   Meanwhile Serena Williams will fight for an 18th Grand Slam title against Caroline Wozniacki after sweeping past Ekaterina Makarova 6-1 6-3 on Friday to reach the US Open final. World number one Williams winner of the past two titles at Flushing Meadows and five overall will try to match Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on 18 career major titles when she faces her good friend Wozniacki on Sunday. The 10th-seeded Dane was leading 7-6 (7/1) 4-3 when China's Peng Shuai dramatically retired from their semi-final with heat related illness. Peng was taken from the court in a wheelchair as Wozniacki leading 7-6 (7/1) 4-3 was declared the victor. Peng in growing discomfort in the second set in the hot sunshine bathing Arthur Ashe Stadium court was overcome in the eighth game reeling to the back of the court where she was eventually attended by a trainer and a supervisor. After some discussion she was helped form the court and granted a confusing and controversial mid-game medical timeout as Wozniacki facing a break point was left to try to stay loose hitting practice serves. Peng returned to the court and after a break of 10 minutes played five more points before she was stricken again finally crumpling to the court her Grand Slam dream in tatters. 'She was in distress she had a heat-related illness' said tournament director David Brewer after the match adding that Peng was recovering well in the on-site medical facility. 'It was very difficult to watch' said Wozniacki who went to Peng's side when she fell to the court offering her a comforting pat. 'Tennis is great but the health is more important. I wanted to make sure that she's OK' Wozniacki said. Wozniacki was especially concerned knowing that Peng had surgery to correct a heart defect as a youngster.   She wasn't too worried about whether the extended break broke any rule. 'I didn't really know the rules I know if it's just cramping you aren't allowed to have a timeout but if it's heat illness you can' she said. And then I think they check my temperature. And then everything  Peng speaking later after an ice bath and rest said the doctor who treated her during the time out urged her not to return to the match. 'I said No no no I don't want to give up. I want to try one more time. 'I knew I'm not going to stay maybe too long but I just wanted to try. I just wanted to challenge her one more time.' Peng's memory of the moment the match was halted is hazy.   'I couldn't think for the match because I wanted to stop the cramping to breathe. 'But I think when I came back on the court the doctor she knows. So with the situation they're not going to let me die on the court so they have to decide.' Wozniacki who shocked five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova in the fourth round is back in a Grand Slam final for the first time since losing in the 2009 US Open final to Kim Clijsters. 'It's incredible to be in the final I have goosebumps' she said. Despite her 17 major wins Williams too was overjoyed to return to the final having failed to make it out of the fourth round at any major so far this year. 'Oh my God it feels so good' said Williams who sank almost to her knees screaming 'Yes!' when Makarova pushed a last forehand wide. 'I'm so happy you have no idea.' Williams saw Peng's travails unfold as she warmed up for her match.   'I was really saddened by it' she said. 'She's such a great person. You never want to see anyone go out like that.' There was no drama or suspense for Williams. After Makarova had held her first service game for 1-1 in the opening set Williams won the next nine games turning up the volume to finish with 24 winners on an increasingly windy Ashe court. The American superstar needed exactly one hour to subdue 17th-seeded Makarova who was playing in her first Grand Slam semi-final after coming up empty in four prior quarter-final appearances. Williams played three straight tournaments in the build-up to the Open winning titles in Stanford and Cincinnati and reaching the semi-finals in Montreal. Along the way she beat Wozniacki twice in the quarter-finals at Montreal and semis in Cincy both times needing three sets.


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