Flushing Meadows, NY (SportsNetwork.com) – Kei Nishikori of Japan and Marin Cilic of Croatia will do battle in the men’s final at the U.S. Open.
Yes, you heard me right.
The aforementioned unlikely heroes stunned 2011 winner Novak Djokovic and five-time champion Roger Federer in the semifinals on Saturday. Nishikori and Cilic will face off in the finals on Monday.
The 10th-seeded Nishikori became the first Asian man to reach a Grand Slam final with a 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 victory over the top-seeded Djokovic, while Cilic took down Federer 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 at Ashe Stadium.
“Very happy to make another history,” said Nishikori. “It’s first time to reach Asian, you know, people in the final. So I hope I can win and to make another history.”
Cilic will also be making his first career appearance in a Grand Slam championship.
Djokovic appeared in his eighth straight U.S. Open semifinal and was trying to advance to his fifth straight final and sixth overall (1-4).
“Other than that second set my game today was not even close to what I wanted it to be,” said Djokovic. “A lot of unforced errors, a lot of short balls. Just wasn’t myself.”
Nishikori won in four sets on Saturday after playing back-to-back five-set marathons in his last two matches totaling more than 8 1/2 hours. He beat Milos Raonic in the fourth round and Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals.
The 24-year-old Nishikori converted 5-of-7 break points, while Djokovic was just 4-for-13. He improved to 2-1 lifetime against Djokovic.
Following a rain delay, Cilic, the No. 14 seed, ended Federer’s quest for an 18th Grand Slam title. The second-seeded Federer entered the match with a 5-0 career record against Cilic, who missed last year’s U.S. Open as he served a doping ban.
Nishikori is 5-2 lifetime against Cilic.
The 2014 U.S. Open champ will pocket a record $3 million.