Rublev Nishioka Washington 2022 SF | ATP Tour
Yoshihito Nishioka’s Unforgettable Week just keeps getting better.
The Japanese southpaw continued his impressive run in Washington on Saturday night when he upset top seed Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-4 to reach the Citi Open final. The 26-year-old will face 2019 champion Nick Kyrgios for the trophy.
“I love playing here, I’ve been there many times. But for tomorrow, everyone loves Nick too. I hope they…the crowd, [cheers for] me, but just [going to] enjoy the day tomorrow,” Nishioka said during his on-court interview. “[It is my] first time [in a] final in a 500, so [I will] just [try to] play my best and [I am] excited.”
At the start of the week, Nishioka hadn’t won a tour-level match since Miami in March. But in July he won five of his seven matches on the ATP Challenger Tour and carried that momentum to the United States’ capital, where he is now one victory away from the biggest trophy of his career.
Nishioka has lost all three of his previous ATP Head2Head matches against Kyrgios. Their last clash came in the Round of 16 three years ago, a encounter the Aussie won 6-2, 7-5 en route to the title.
“We’ve played a few times, but he’s beaten me every time since. [we were] 16 years old. It’s really hard to play against him,” Nishioka said. “He has no rhythm, he just hits the ball so hard every time and most of his serves [too]who [makes it] very difficult to break his service games. The most important thing is that I have to focus on my service games.”
But Nishioka’s confidence skyrockets. The Japanese star beat Atlanta finalists last week, runner-up Jenson Brooksby and champion Alex de Minaur in the first two rounds, before knocking out seventh seed Karen Khachanov and 16th seed Daniel Evans for reach the final four.
Nishioka needed three hours and 35 minutes to dispatch Evans on Friday, but physically he had no problem going blow for blow with Rublev, one of the most powerful players on the ATP Tour.
“Today I felt very tired before the start of the match, and for sure I felt that I [couldn’t] do the same thing I did against Evans and Khachanov,” Nishioka said. “I tried to be a bit aggressive, because I knew Andrey was going to play aggressive towards me. I needed to play a little aggressive with him.”
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The top seed struggled to control his forehand against the consistent southpaw. Rublev kept pressing that wing knowing how fast Nishioka was behind the baseline, and that continued aggression proved his undoing.
The world No. 8 missed a break point against the forehand in back-to-back service games to lose serve. While Nishioka returned the first of those breaks of serve, he held it the second time and served the match to advance to his first ATP 500 Finals.
Did you know?
World No. 96 Nishioka is at No. 54 in the Pepperstone ATP live rankings and will climb to No. 42 if he beats Kyrgios in the final.