VIENNA – Kei Nishikori advanced to the final of the Erste Bank Open with a straight-sets semifinal victory over Mikhail Kukushkin on Saturday.
Nishikori, ranked 11th in the world, defeated his 71st-ranked opponent from Kazakhstan 6-4, 6-3 in one hour, 29 minutes. Kukushkin did not have a chance to break Nishikori’s serve until the second set and did not face a break point himself until the sixth game of the first set.
At that point, the qualifier Kukushkin fended off Nishikori to make it 3-3. The next break point did not come until the 10th game. With Nishikori leading 5-4, Nishikori had two chances and converted the second set point.
The second set started more easily. After Nishikori held a serve in a tightly contested first game, two Kukushkin returns into the net and a return ace saw Nishikori break in a love game.
“It may have looked easy, but I faced some difficult situations. He was a tough opponent,” Nishikori said after maintaining his undefeated record against Kukushkin in eight career matches.
“I’ve been playing some good matches, and I’m quite happy to reach the final in my debut at this tournament.”