New York: Two-time champion Novak Djokovic ended John Millman’s fairytale US Open run Wednesday, by beating the 55th-ranked Australian in straight sets to book a semifinal clash with Kei Nishikori. The Serb won 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to reach his 11th consecutive US Open semifinals. He lifted the trophy in 2011 and 2015.
Nishikori, the 21st seed, advanced with a 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(7-5), 4-6, 6-4 victory over Marin Cilic – the man who beat him in the 2014 final.
Millman kept Djokovic running – and was kept running himself – for 169 on another hot, humid night in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“You survive on the court then thrive with a win,” said Djokovic, who converted just four of his 20 breakpoints and made 53 unforced errors before he was finally able to accomplish what Federer couldn’t in seeing off Millman.
It was clear that it could be a long night when the players battled for more than 15 minutes in the sixth game of the opening set, Millman saving four breakpoints. The Aussie saved another four in the opening game of the second set and as the duel continued both players were clearly feeling the effects of long, entertaining rallies.
Millman, his clothes soaked, made the unorthodox request to go change after the fourth game of the second set and Djokovic agreed.
“He (Millman) was apologising he felt very sorry that he has to leave the court and change. I said, ‘Man, go ahead’. I needed that rest,” said Djokovic, who finally gained the decisive break in the penultimate game of the final set then served it out at love.
Japan’s Nishikori, who missed last year’s US Open after a season-ending wrist injury, joined compatriot Naomi Osaka in reaching the semis – the first time that a Japanese man and woman have reached the last four in the same Grand Slam.
Against Cilic he laboured for four hours and eight minutes. “I don’t know why but it’s always a battle with Marin,” said Nishikori, who stretched his career record over the seventh-seeded Croatian to 9-6.
Nishikori appeared to be in control of the fifth set with a break for a 3-1 lead. He had two game points for a 5-2 lead but a double fault and a wide backhand opened the door for Cilic, who stormed through, shouting “Got it!” when he secured the break to narrow the gap to 4-3.
But Nishikori broke Cilic in the final game, capturing the match with a blistering service return. “I try to fight every point,” before adding “Especially in the end I really focus on every point.”