Novak Djokovic beat Kei Nishikori on Friday night to advance to his eighth US Open men’s final.
“What. A. Finish,” the US Open tweeted after the Serbian won, adding that he cruised to the final in Flushing Meadows after defeating Nishikori 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
“I thought in the important moments I came up with some good second serves, some good first serves. I was returning well,” Djokovic said after the game. “I was putting (constant) pressure on him, trying to move him around the court, take away the rhythm from him.”
Nishikori — the first Japanese man to reach a US Open semifinal in the Open era — was a finalist in New York in 2014.
Djokovic will play Argentine Juan Martin del Potro on Sunday, the first time the pair will square off in a Grand Slam final. But a win by either del Potro or Djokovic means the US Open will crown a repeat men’s champion — del Potro won the finals in 2009, while Djokovic was the champion in 2011 and 2015.
Del Potro advanced after defending champion and world No. 1 Rafael Nadal was forced to quit the US Open semifinal because of a knee injury.
“You could imagine it was very difficult for me to say goodbye before the match finishes,” Nadal said. “But at some point, you have to make a decision. It was so difficult for me to keep playing at the same time that way, having too much pain.”
On Saturday, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams will meet Naomi Osaka, who was age 1 when Williams won her first Grand Slam in the 1999 women’s final.
Should Williams beat Osaka — the first Japanese woman to advance to a Grand Slam final — she will equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.
“It’s honestly really incredible,” said Williams, who is ranked No. 26 in the world after a heavily interrupted year following the difficult birth of her daughter, Alexis Olympia.
“A year ago I was fighting for literally my life at the hospital after I had the baby. Every day I step on this court I’m so grateful that I have an opportunity to play this sport. No matter what happens in any match, semis, finals, I just feel like I’ve already won.”