Washington, Aug 8: Japan's fifth-ranked Kei Nishikori and Croatia's eighth-ranked Marin Cilic will meet in a rematch of last year's US Open final after advancing Friday to the ATP and WTA Washington Open semi-finals.
And Nishikori made it clear he seeks a measure of revenge Saturday for Cilic denying his bid to become the first Asian man to win a Grand Slam title.
"It's going to be great motivation for me," Nishikori said. "I think it's going to be very interesting."
Reigning US Open champion Cilic defeated German teen Alexander Zverev 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) while Nishikori, the top remaining seed after Britain's Andy Murray crashed out, ousted Australia's Sam Groth 6-4, 6-4 in quarter-final matches.
That set up their first meeting since Cilic downed Nishikori 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, at Arthur Ashe Stadium in September for his first Grand Slam crown.
"To play Kei again is for sure going to be an entertaining and exciting match," Cilic said. "I wouldn't say I'm at the same form as I was at the US Open. Emotion-wise, it's going to be extremely different. Before the Slam final we were both nervous.
"For sure I'm going to take some things out of that match to get the win."
Nishikori, who has a 5-3 edge on Cilic in their all-time rivalry, said he recalls not being at his best for the biggest moment of his career thus far and welcomes another chance at the man who frustrated his dream.
"I was really nervous and I wasn't really into the match," Nishikori said. "Physically I wasn't 100 percent.
"I'm a better player than last year. I'm a little more solid baseline player. I'm a more aggressive player than before. I think I'm getting better. It's going to be a good match."
US eighth seed John Isner, coming off his 10th career title last week in Atlanta, fired 20 aces in a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 win over Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis to grab a spot in the other semi-final against compatriot Steve Johnson, who beat American Jack Sock 7-6 (7/5), 6-1. AFP