‘Very happy’ Kei Nishikori finally masters Rafa Nadal in Montreal as Andy Murray awaits

Kei Nishikori arranged a semi-final with Andy Murray on Friday at the Montreal Masters, beating Rafael Nadal for the first time 6-2, 6-4 as Novak Djokovic held off an upset bid by the resurgent Ernests Gulbis.

Kei Nishikori celebrates his quarter-final win over Rafael Nadal on Friday at the Montreal Masters. Andre Pichette / EPA / August 14, 2015
Powered by automated translation

Novak Djokovic had to fight off an upset bid from qualifier Ernests Gulbis, defeating the Latvian 5-7, 7-6, 6-1 on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Montreal Masters.

But Rafael Nadal, like Djokovic a former champion at the event, was unable to escape an on-form Kei Nishikori as the fourth seed sent out the Spaniard 6-2, 6-4 thanks in part to six double-faults from Nadal.

Nishikori is riding a wave of momentum from his hard-court title last week in Washington and will next face second seed Andy Murray who beat French 10th-seeded holder Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-4 and took revenge for a semi-final loss a year ago in Canada.

Nishikori won his first match against Nadal after seven losses, taking just under 90 minutes to advance in his best Canadian showing.

“It took a long time to finally beat him, but I’m very happy to win my first match against Rafael,” Nishikori said.

“I knew I have to be aggressive, so I have to change some tactics to play against Rafa.

“Everything was feeling well today. I felt like everything was going in.

“I mean, he’s still not maybe 100 per cent, but he’s Rafa.”

Seventh seed Nadal was playing in Canada for the first time since winning his third title here in 2013.

Djokovic found himself down a set and a break against Gulbis.

Gulbis, whose career best was a Roland Garros semi-final in 2014, has since gone into a funk.

But he forced his world No 1 opponent to save two match points in the 9-7 second-set tiebreaker. The match dragged on two and a half hours.

Djokovic levelled at a set apiece and re-established order as he ran away with the third set for the win.

“Ernests was a better player for two sets. Unfortunately, he missed two match points,” Djkovic said.

“I wasn’t very happy with my game. But you have to muscle it out sometimes and I had to put in the effort.

“One day you play well, the other you don’t. It’s important to stay committed to every point, believe, fight. That’s what gets you out of trouble.”

Djokovic is bidding for his fourth Canadian title. In the semi-finals, he meets unseeded Jeremy Chardy.

Chardy booked his first career appearance in the semi-final of an ATP Masters 1000 event, struggling for three hours to defeat John Isner 6-7, 7-6, 7-6.

Chardy overcame 32 aces from the big American to reach the final four.

The match, which began two hours late due to rain, lasted three hours, eight minutes.

“I’m very proud to reach my first Masters semi-final,” said the 49th-ranked winner, who levelled his season record at 18-18. “I was lucky to come back in the second.

“I’m really happy. I stayed really focused and really strong in my head the whole match.”

Chardy advanced with 12 aces and a single break of serve while saving break points on six of seven occasions.

The Frenchman has dominated Isner in their career meetings, winning all four of their matches, including at Roland Garros in the second round in May.

Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE