Japan's Kei Nishikori saved five match points to down Gael Monfils on Thursday and advance into a semi-final showdown with Australian Nick Kyrgios at the ATP and WTA Miami Open.
Nishikori denied Monfils four times in the 10th game of the final set and again in the 12th before taking the last three tie-breaker points to end a tension-packed thriller after two hours and 29 minutes.
"I thought, 'That's it. It's going to be tough to come back,'" Nishikori said. "But I tried to play one good point at a time. I had to focus to come back and I did it."
Nishikori, the 2014 US Open runner-up, will play Friday for a berth in Sunday's final against 24th seed Kyrgios, who ousted Canadian 12th seed Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6 (7/4).
"I have to return well whenever possible to get on his serve," Nishikori said. "That's going to be the key for sure."
Kyrgios, at 20, will become the youngest player in the world top 20 since 2009 on Monday.
"It's pretty cool. I'm happy with that," Kyrgios said. "But there's 19 guys in front of me."
Coming off his first ATP title in February at Marseille, Kyrgios is into his first ATP Masters Series semi-final but must face a veteran in Nishikori, who won their only prior meeting last year in Shanghai.
"It's exciting to play one of the best players in the world," Kyrgios said. "He has got an unbelievable return of serve, moves unbelievably fast. It's going to be a tough match."
Top-ranked defending champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays Belgian 15th seed David Goffin in the other semi-final.
Nishikori stands strong
Monfils had three early match points in the 10th game, only to fire errant backhands each time, and Nishikori rescued a fourth with a forehand winner then saved a fifth in the 12th game with a forehand winner, setting up the tie-breaker.
Trailing 4-3 in the tie-breaker, Monfils netted a forehand volley and sent another forehand long before Nishikori ended it with a forehand winner.
"I had the opportunity to close it out but Kei played strong," Monfils said. "He fought well. In the breaker, he was just better than me."
Kyrgios took the only break of his match in the opening game when Raonic hit a forehand wide.
"I came out energetic and got the break," Kyrgios said. "That got me more relaxed. I played really well."
Kyrgios held serve through the first set and won the tie-breaker when Raonic netted forehands on the last two points.
"He came up with big shots in the important moments," Raonic said. "And that's what it came down to."
American twins Bob and Mike Bryan, who turned 38 this week, lost in the semifinals of doubles to Pierre-Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, 6-3, 6-3. The Bryans hold a record 16 Grand Slam titles but haven't won a tournament since August.
(With inputs from AFP and AP)
First Published On : Apr 1, 2016 15:56 IST