Earlier this year, Janko Tipsarevic and Kei Nishikori met in the quarterfinals of the Chennai Open with the former besting the latter 6-4,6-4. This afternoon, the two had a rematch in the semifinals of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships. Once again, Tipsarevic got the better of Nishikori by the same score to move on to his third career final.
As the 2008 champion, Nishikori has great memories from this venue and began strongly with a love hold. When Tipsarevic flubbed an overhead off a defensive lob, Nishikori was one point away from taking a 2-0 lead. However, with his opponent making three consecutive errors, Tipsarevic managed to guard serve. From that point on in the first set, Nishikori was the one pushing the envelope while Tipsarevic was satisfied with putting the ball in play. As a result of that tactic, Tipsarevic forced multiple miscues from his rival. Nishikori had to bounce back from love-30 to stay ahead 3-2. But serving at 4 all, Nishikori netted a backhand crosscourt to hand Tipsarevic double break point. When Nishikori sent another backhand long, Tipsarevic captured the break for a 5-4 edge. Then at 40-0, Tipsarevic thumped an ace to put the set to bed.
During the interlude, Nishikori had an injury time out to address his foot. Showing no ill effect, Nishikori went back to work. Subsequent to an opening double fault, Nishikori fought hard and salvaged the game for 1-0. Now in a groove, at love, Tipsarevic found the equalizer. Next, by floating a forehand wide and committing a double fault, Nishikori was in a love-30 hole. After recovering and getting to game point, Nishikori produced another mistake leading to deuce. When Nishikori sliced a backhand wide, Tipsarevic had break point. Tipsarevic converted as a result of Nishikori loosing control of a forehand stroke. With another error plagued game from Nishikori, Tipsarevic easily consolidated for 3-1. Despite staying one break down, with a myriad of errors, Nishikori failed to rattle Tipsarevic’s serve. Consequently, as in the first set, an untroubled Tipsarevic arrived at triple match point and with an ace booked his spot into the final.
In his post match interview, Tipsarevic stated: “I’m really happy with the week and my match today.” When asked what he thought was the key to his win, Tipsarevic commented: “the main difference was the serve. I managed to win one or two points per service game on my serve just by making an ace or a good serve while Kei had to grind for every possible point on his service game.” Moreover, Tipsarevic cited: “Novak [Djokovic] beating [Roger] Federer today made me want to win just a little bit more”. In fact, Tipsarevic received a congratulatory text message from his countryman, Djokovic, after his victory.
To claim his first ATP title, Tipsarevic will have defeat either 2009 Delray Beach champion Mardy Fish or 2009 U.S. Open champ Juan Martin Del Potro. Fish and Del Potro will clash in the night session.