Miami, April 2: World No.1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic will face Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the ATP Miami Open final after straight-set triumphs Friday in which both were tested here at times.
Djokovic, an 11-time Grand Slam champion whose three titles this year include the Australian Open, downed Belgian 15th seed David Goffin 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.
The 28-year-old Serbian will try to match the career record of six Miami crowns won by Andre Agassi by capturing his third consecutive title at the hard court event. “It’s a privilege just to be mentioned alongside Andre Agassi,” Djokovic said.
Sixth seed Nishikori defeated Australian 24th seed Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 7-5. “First Miami final, that makes me very happy,” Nishikori said after the match.
Djokovic has a 6-2 career edge over Nishikori, including five wins in a row, most recently in this year’s Australian Open quarterfinals. “It’s going to be tough for sure. He has been playing well,” Nishikori said. “I played him in Australia. I will try to come up with something better.”
Djokovic won his 15th consecutive Miami match and the 29th of his past 30, but only after winning a tense tie-breaker and taking the lone break of the second set, prompting a post-match kissing of the court.
Squared 4-4 in the tie-breaker, Goffin hit an overhead smash that Djokovic sent back as a lob inside the far baseline to keep the point alive and later took full advantage by winning it with a forehand drop volley winner. “I was a bit fortunate in the tie-breaker but I made him play the extra shot,” said Djokovic. “That helped.”
Goffin, who will jump to a career-best 13th in next week’s rankings, hit a forehand wide to give Djokovic two set points, then saved one on a drop volley winner but lost the set when the ball deflected off the edge of his racquet as he leaped to reach another Djokovic lob.
“Against Djokovic you have to go for the shot in every point,” Goffin said. “If you’re not there for a few seconds you lose the game.”
In the second set, Goffin netted a backhand to hand Djokovic a break for a 4-3 edge and the World No. 1 held twice to triumph after two hours and five minutes.