Novak Djokovic defeated fourth seed Kei Nishikori 6-1, 3-6, 6-0 in their semi-final at The O2 in London on Saturday afternoon.
Djokovic is now unbeaten in his past 31 indoor matches (61-8 match record on the season, and six titles). He dropped just nine games in three round-robin matches prior to his fifth meeting with Nishikori.
Djokovic will next face Roger Federer or Stan Wawrinka in Sunday’s final.
Nole broke Nishikori’s serve for a 3-1 lead, when Kei star hit a backhand volley wide at 30/40. Djokovic broke a second time at 4-1 and then sealed the 23-minute opener with a hold to 15. He won 18 of 22 points under five strokes.
Djokovic won his seventh straight game, breaking Nishikori to 30 at the start of the second set, but then lost his serve by hitting a double fault. Greater weight of shot paid dividends in the eighth game, as Nishikori drew Djokovic to the net before striking a forehand pass for a 5-3 lead. Nishikori, who beat Andy Murray and alternate David Ferrer in Group B play, dictated with his forehand to level the score at a set apiece.
Nishikori’s momentum ended quickly. Successive groundstroke errors – a forehand and backhand – cost Nishikori on two break points, from 15/40, in the opening game of the third set. Djokovic held on and then broke down Nishikori’s baseline game to win six straight games for victory in 87 minutes.
“The first and third (sets) went the way I wanted,” said Djokovic. “In the second, I had the break, then I lost concentration. He was the better player. He started making shots that he wasn’t making in the first set.”
“He’s one of the quickest, most talented players in the world right now. He won many titles, many matches this year. That’s why he’s very dangerous on any surface. He plays very fast. If you start to hesitate with your shots, he puts a lot of pressure on your serve. It wasn’t an easy match.”
“I would say I was close,” said Nishikori. “Even though the last set was a bagel, I had a couple chances in the first couple games. The first set he played really good, too good for me. But the second set I start playing well. He got a little bit tight. I took some risks. Everything worked well in the second. Even the first couple of points in the third set, I thought I had it. I think I started thinking too much that he’s the No. 1 player. I think I risked too much. I made too many unforced errors in the first couple of games. Then he started playing better. It’s very disappointing because I think if I changed a little bit it could have been closer in the third set. But it was a good week.”