Yoshihito Nishioka’s week to remember keeps getting better.
The Japanese lefty continued his impressive run in Washington on Saturday evening when he stunned top seed Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-4 to reach the Citi Open final. The 26-year-old will play 2019 champion Nick Kyrgios for the trophy.
“I love to play here, I have been here many times. But for tomorrow, everyone loves Nick as well. Hopefully still they… the crowd, [cheers for] me, but just [going to] enjoy the day tomorrow,” Nishioka said in his on-court interview. “[It is my] first time [in a] final in a 500, so [I will] just [try to] play my best and [I am] excited.”
Entering the week, Nishioka had not won a tour-level match since Miami in March. But in July, he won five of his seven matches on the ATP Challenger Tour and carried that momentum into the United States’ capital, where he is now one victory away from the biggest trophy of his career.
Nishioka has lost all three of his previous ATP Head2Head matches against Kyrgios. Their most recent clash came in the Round of 16 three years ago, a meeting the Australian won 6-2, 7-5 en route to the title.
“We’ve played many times, but he beat me every time since [we were] 16 years old. It is really tough to play against him,” Nishioka said. “He doesn’t have any pace, he just hits the ball so hard every time and most of his serves [too]which [makes it] very tough to break his service games. The most important thing is I have to focus on my service games.”
But Nishioka’s confidence is soaring. The Japanese star defeated last week’s Atlanta finalists, runner-up Jenson Brooksby and champion Alex de Minaur in the first two rounds, before eliminating seventh seed Karen Khachanov and 16th seed Daniel Evans to reach the last four.
Nishioka needed three hours and 35 minutes to dispatch Evans on Friday, but physically had no issues going blow-for-blow with Rublev, one of the most powerful players on the ATP Tour.
“Today I felt very tired before the start of the match, and for sure I felt I [couldn’t] do the same thing like I did against Evans and Khachanov,” Nishioka said. “I tried to be a little bit aggressive, because I knew Andrey was going to play aggressive to me. I needed to play a little bit aggressive to him.”
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The top seed struggled to control his forehand against the consistent lefty. Rublev continued to press on that wing knowing how quick Nishioka is behind the baseline, and that continued aggression proved his undoing.
The World No. 8 mishit a forehand facing break point in back-to-back service games to lose his serve. While Nishioka gave the first of those service breaks back, he maintained it the second time and served out the match to advance to his first ATP 500 final.
Did You Know?
World No. 96 Nishioka is up to No. 54 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings and will climb to No. 42 if he defeats Kyrgios in the final.