Basel: Kei Nishikori saved two match points to defeat Gilles Muller 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 on Saturday to make the Basel ATP final where he will face Marin Cilic who battled past qualifier Mischa Zverev 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Japanese star Nishikori performed his escape act in the second set against Luxembourg's big hitter, who rained down 20 aces in the two-and-a-quarter-hour thriller.
Third-seeded Nishikori saved the first match point with a perfectly timed lob; his second was an ace.
"I saw that he was almost touching the net, but my arm was shaking as it was match point," Nishikori said of the winner that pulled the score level 5-5 in the second set. "I was pretty confident with the lob.
"It's never easy to save two match points -- I was happy to get through this tight moment."
After his heroics in the second set, Nishikori was able to steady his game to earn a hard-earned win over Muller, ranked 37.
"I got more comfortable and played a good match. The balls fly a lot here, you really have to hit the ball," said a relieved Nishikori.
"Muller has a great serve. I'm just happy to have won the match."
Nishikori has already qualified for next month's ATP World Tour Finals in London for a third straight edition.
The world number five will aim for only his second title of the season on Sunday when he plays Cilic in a re-run of the 2014 US Open final won by the Croatian.
"It's tough to think of the past, but when I remember that match it gives me some guidance about how to play this next one," Cilic said. "It will be another tight match like others we've played.
"I'm looking forward to the final."
Cilic, who beat Zverev with 16 aces, stands 4-7 against Nishikori.
Cilic now stands provisional ninth for the eight-man field at the Tour Finals after passing Tomas Berdych in the table.
Published Date: Oct 30, 2016 02:00 pm | Updated Date: Oct 30, 2016 02:00 pm