HALLE, GERMANY – Kei Nishikori was knocked out in the semifinals of the Gerry Weber Open in a straight-sets defeat to former World No. 1 Roger Federer on Saturday.
Federer, the defending champion and No. 2 seed, beat fourth-seeded Nishikori 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) in a match that took a little over one hour. Nishikori slipped to a 2-2 career record in matchups against Federer.
It was the first time for Nishikori to play Federer, whom he beat at the Sony Open in March, on grass. Federer holds the record for most Grand Slam titles with 17.
“Federer made very quick transitions and had a great serve,” said Nishikori.
The 24-year-old Nishikori, who dropped to No. 12 in the world after making a first-round exit at the French Open in May, was appearing in his first grass court tournament of the season as he prepares for Wimbledon later this month.
“He didn’t give me any time (to adjust), so I struggled,” Nishikori said. “Even so, I gained confidence to play on a grass court. I want to produce a great result at Wimbledon.”
Federer will play Alejandro Falla in the final.
“It was played on a very fast court and a few shots were going to decide it. They went my way,” Federer said.
Nishikori rallied to force the second set to the tiebreak, where he made a mini-break at 4-2, only to let Federer off the hook with two consecutive forehand errors.
Federer miscalculated the score and hadn’t realized he won.
“The crowd’s applause was different, I looked at the referee and he was smiling, then I noticed Nishikori was at the net. I had to check the score. Of course, I was happy to accept the win,” said the Swiss, who thought it happened for “probably the first time.”
After a first-round bye, Federer began his Wimbledon preparations by defeating Portugal’s Joao Sousa on Thursday, then had a walkover in the quarterfinals.
Falla rallied to beat 2011 champion Philipp Kohlschreiber 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 to become the first Colombian to reach the final of a grass-court tournament.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Falla said. “I knew I had good chances here. I already played great matches on grass courts. It’s my favorite surface.”
The 69th-ranked Falla saved six of the nine break points he faced before defeating Kohlschreiber in 2 hours, 21 minutes.
“He took the big points and that makes the difference,” Kohlschreiber said.
Sunday’s final against seven-time Wimbledon winner Federer will be Falla’s second on tour after he finished runner-up to Ivo Karlovic at Bogota in 2013.
“It would be nice to play Roger, maybe to get revenge for the last couple of matches on grass at the Olympics and at Wimbledon,” Falla said, referring to their previous meetings.
Dimitrov beats Wawrinka
London — Fourth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov upset top-seeded Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-4 to reach the final at Queen’s Club on Saturday.
He will play 10th-seeded Feliciano Lopez in Sunday’s final, after the Spanish left-hander defeated Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 7-6 (9-7), 6-4.
“It’s a good feeling,” Dimitrov said. “I always wanted to be in a final out here; stepping on that (court) on Sunday means a lot to me. It has always been like one of the biggest events for me, for some reason”