Seven years ago, Kei Nishikori ousted Novak Djokovic in the US Open semi-final to advance into the first and only Major title match. It was hard to imagine that would remain the Japanese’s last victory over the Serb, as Novak defeated Kei 17 times in a row and 18 times in 20 encounters overall! Novak was the favorite against Kei in the third round on Saturday, and he scored a 6-7, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 victory in three hours and 32 minutes for a place in the last 16. Novak had to work hard to earn the 24th straight win at Majors in 2021, remaining on a course for a calendar Grand Slam, the first since Rod Laver in 1969. Djokovic fired 15 aces, but his serve was not on a usual level, facing 13 break opportunities and defending 11 to limit the damage and avoid an even more extended match.
Novak Djokovic beat Kei Nishikori in four sets in three and a half hours.
On the other hand, Nishikori got broken seven times to plague his chances after a promising start and propel world no. 1 into the last 16. Novak had 45 winners and 52 unforced errors and will have to play better against the rivals like Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev if he wants to secure that massive honor in New York. The opening set lasted for over an hour, and Kei confirmed it in the tie break, taking the first set against Novak on hard since the 2014 ATP Finals. From 4-2 down, Novak rattled off three straight games and moved in front before Kei claimed the tie break 7-4 thanks to a service winner.
Djokovic fended off all seven break chances in two service games of the second set and stole Nishikori’s serve in games three and nine for 6-3 and a massive boost. In the third set, the Serb raced into a 4-1 advantage before the Japanese pulled the break back in game seven to extend his chances. Nonetheless, Kei netted an easy forehand in the eighth game to fall behind, and Novak claimed the set in the next game for a massive boost ahead of the fourth. Novak broke Kei’s resistance with back-to-back breaks at 2-2, serving for the win in the eighth game and seizing the third match point with an unreturned serve.