Nishikori set for showdown in semis with Djokovic

Kyodo, AP

Kei Nishikori defeated Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin to reach the semifinals of the Swiss Indoors on Friday.

Nishikori battled to a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 win in 2 hours, 40 minutes, to set up a meeting in the last four with Serbian top seed Novak Djokovic, who fought back to dispatch Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Nishikori will be competing in his third semifinal in six weeks, having made it to the final four in Kuala Lumpur and at the Shanghai Masters.

“It’s a great feeling to reach three semifinals in six weeks,” said Nishikori. “I knew it was going to be a tough week. Beating Tomas Berdych in the first round and getting to the semifinals has been a great experience.”

“Djokovic is playing unbelievable this year. He doesn’t have many weaknesses, so I will need to play a bit more aggressive than usual and play my best tennis to beat him,” added the world No. 32.

Djokovic said of Nishikori, “He’s had a great last few months and is a very talented player. It should be a good match.”

The top-ranked Djokovic stayed on course to meet hometown favorite Roger Federer in the final for a third straight year, after the defending champion beat Andy Roddick of the United States 6-3, 6-2.

Federer will play his 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medal-winning doubles partner Stanislas Wawrinka. The Swiss No. 2 eased past Florian Mayer of Germany 6-2, 6-2.

In beating Roddick at Basel for the fourth time, Federer improved to 21-2 against the 2003 U.S. Open winner. He cruised to victory after breaking Roddick’s serve to lead 5-3 in the first set.

“It’s great to get those big momentum shifts going sometimes. It was a good performance from my side,” said Federer, who also is returning after six weeks off.

Roddick’s paycheck this week raised his career tournament earnings to over $20 million.