US Open: Kei Nishikori on the cusp of history
Kei Nishikori produced a remarkable physical feat to defeat Stan Wawrinka in five sets and become the first Japanese man in the Open era to reach a Grand Slam semi-final
New York: Kei Nishikori produced a remarkable physical feat to defeat Stan Wawrinka in five sets and become the first Japanese man in the Open era to reach a Grand Slam semi-final.
Tenth seed Nishikori had beaten Milos Raonic in the fourth round in five sets in a match that finished at 2.26am — the joint latest finish in US Open history.
He was back on Arthur Ashe Stadium barely 36 hours later and battled for another four hours and 15 minutes to put out the Australian Open champion 3-6 7-5 7-6 (9/7) 6-7 (5/7) 6-4.
The last Japanese man to make the Last Four at a grand slam was Jiro Satoh at Wimbledon in 1933.
Nishikori said: "I started a little bit tight but my body was okay, I was feeling more and more confident, especially getting the third set. I don't know how I finished the match but I'm very happy.
"I feel amazing. This is my favourite Grand Slam. I have good memories here and I'm very happy to be first time in the semis. I hope I can recover again and play 100 per cent tennis next round."
Wawrinka lets it slip
Given Nishikori's exertions, it was no real surprise when Wawrinka raced into a 3-0 lead, and that was enough for the Swiss to take the opening set.
But Wawrinka, who put on a masterclass against Andy Murray at the same stage last year to reach his first Slam semi-final, has not been on top form this tournament and it was the same again.
The 29-year-old was making bad mistakes at bad times, none more so than the double fault that handed Nishikori the second set.
Far from tiring, the Japanese player seemed to be improving as the match went on, his forehand in particular keeping Wawrinka on the run.