US Open: Kei Nishikori beats Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals

By Piers NewberyBBC Sport at Flushing Meadows
Kei Nishikori, of Japan, reacts after defeating Novak Djokovic
Kei Nishikori, of Japan, celebrates after defeating Novak Djokovic
US Open Men's Final, Flushing Meadows
Date: Monday, 8 September Time: 22:00 BST Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, online, tablets, mobiles and the BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary

Kei Nishikori stunned world number one Novak Djokovic at the US Open to become Japan's first Grand Slam singles finalist.

The 10th seed won 6-4 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 and will take on Marin Cilic for the title on Monday after the Croat shocked Roger Federer in straight sets.

Nishikori, 24, coached by Michael Chang, responded superbly after losing the second set to seal his biggest win.

"It's just an amazing feeling, beating the number one player," said Nishikori.

Nishikori's record-breaking achievement
First Japanese man to reach the semi-finals at the US Championships since Ichiya Kumagae in 1918
The last Japanese man in a Grand Slam semi-final was Jiro Satoh at Wimbledon in 1933
The last Japanese player to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final before Nishikori was Shuzo Matsuoka at Wimbledon 1995
In the women's game, Kimiko Date-Krumm reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open (1994), French Open (1995) and Wimbledon (1996)
Kazuko Sawamatsu reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 1973

"I hope it's big news in Japan. I feel the support from Japan. It's 4 o'clock in the morning but I hope a lot of people are watching."

Nishikori had needed 10 sets and more than eight hours to win his previous two matches, but produced a remarkable performance as temperatures hit 36C and humidity soared.

"It was really tough conditions today, it felt a little bit heavy and humid," he added. "I guess I like long matches."

Few expected Nishikori, making his Grand Slam semi-final debut, to have the stamina to test Djokovic after his epic wins over Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka in previous rounds.

The Japanese player made the better start though, breaking twice to take the first set against a strangely flat Djokovic, who beat Britain's Andy Murray in a gruelling quarter-final.

BBC Sport tennis correspondent Russell Fuller
"This was an extraordinary double for the underdog. If Cilic's victory over Federer - who had shown signs of frailty in his narrow quarter-final win - did not come as a complete surprise, Nishikori's triumph defied logic. At the start of the third set, the Japanese wore the look of a man who wanted to go for a quiet lie down. Instead, with fuel levels running low after two consecutive five set matches, he went on the attack - thrillingly and brilliantly - and Djokovic couldn't respond in the way we are used to. Cilic, full of the belief instilled in him by coach Goran Ivanisevic, hit the ball cleanly and powerfully and - unlike Monfils - gave Federer no chance to launch a comeback at the end of an unforgettable day."

It was still no surprise when the Serb, playing in his 24th major semi-final, raced through the second set in half an hour as Nishikori appeared to finally be flagging.

A dramatic third game early in the third set proved pivotal, though, as Nishikori survived four break points and seven deuces to hang on, bringing the crowd on side as they got behind the underdog.

Flashing backhand and forehand winners had Djokovic reeling as Nishikori broke for 5-3, but a nervous service game followed and he double-faulted when trying to close out the set.

Again, it appeared that Djokovic would finally assume control and power on to a fifth straight US final, but the top seed continued to struggle and played a poor tie-break.

A wayward forehand on set point was his sixth unforced error in 11 points and the prospect of a major shock became very real when he then dropped serve at the start of the fourth set.

Match stats
Novak DjokovicKei Nishikori
4Double faults4
591st serve %58
801st serve win %67
372nd serve win %50
35Unforced errors34
4/13Break points won5/7
Match time: 2hr 52mins

The frustrated Serb screamed in the direction of his coach Boris Becker, while the German's former on-court rival Chang clenched his fists as he willed on Nishikori in the opposite corner.

There was one more test for Nishikori to negotiate but, just as he had done over the course of three dramatic matches, he played his way out of trouble from 0-40 to move 2-0 up, and Djokovic would not get another chance.

Another searing backhand return brought up two match points and Djokovic's challenge ended with a tired forehand over the baseline.

"Other than that second set my game today was not even close to what I wanted it to be," said Djokovic.

"A lot of unforced errors, a lot of short balls. I just wasn't myself."

Novak Djokovic of Serbia
Both players suffered in the intense heat and humidity at Arthur Ashe Stadium
Kei Nishikori
Kei Nishikori jumped for joy after clinching his famous victory over the seven-time Grand Slam champion
Coach Michael Chang
Coach Michael Chang has played a key role in helping Nishikori reach his first Grand Slam final

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