Nishikori v Lopez in Memphis
Memphis - Japan's Kei Nishikori advanced to the final of the US Indoor National Championships when Australian Marinko Matosevic retired after losing the first set 6-4.
"He was playing really well from the beginning and he broke my serve in the beginning 2-love," Nishikori said. "Lucky for me to play just one set and feel fresh for tomorrow."
On Sunday, Nishikori will face Feliciano Lopez of Spain, a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 winner over Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan. Lopez will be seeking his third title in his eighth career ATP final after a match he thought he had won with an ace - even preparing to shake hands with the chair umpire - only to replay the point because of a let ruling.
"In the old times, we had one guy on the net with a finger," Lopez said. "I don't know if it's more accurate or not. The system now with the machine you never know when it's real let or not."
Nishikori will be looking for his third career title and first since winning in Tokyo last October. That's when he became the first Japanese player to win on home soil in that tournament's 40-year history.
The top Asian player in the ATP rankings at No 22, the fifth-seeded Nishikori was the only seed to advance out of the quarter-finals here after he ousted top-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia.
"It's a tough tournament here, so I understand anything happens," Nishikori said.
Matosevic had been experiencing pain in his right foot since January. The pain reached a new level Friday after beating Alexandr Dolgopolov in three sets. Matosevic iced his foot for a few hours and found that even walking to a grocery store across from his hotel was painful.
The Aussie, the ATP's most improved player in 2012 as he jumped from No 201 in 2011 to 49th, still tried to make it through his third appearance in an ATP semi-final.
Matosevic took the doughnut-shaped pad protecting his foot off before the match and led 2-0 before Nishikori broke back. Nishikori broke Matosevic again to go up 4-3. Matosevic then called for a trainer, who doubled up the padding on the Aussie's right foot. That simply made it too awkward.
"It's tough," Matosevic said. "I definitely felt like I could've won today, and then the bottom half, all the seeds dropping out, Istomin, Lopez, it feels like a big missed opportunity."
Lopez, whose last semi-final came in Beijing last October, reached his first final since Belgrade in May 2011.
He needed only 23 minutes to take the first set against Istomin, who had not dropped a set in Memphis until Saturday. Istomin broke back in the fourth game to go up 3-1 in the second trying to reach his third career ATP final.
Lopez had to fight to hold serve after falling behind 0-40 to open the third set and thought Istomin had broken his serve with a great lob shot. But Lopez asked for the replay, which showed the ball was just out. With the reprieve, Lopez managed to hold serve and broke Istomin to go up 4-2.
Results on Saturday from the $1.58m ATP and WTA US Indoor Championships (x denotes seed):
Kei Nishikori (JPN x5) bt Marinko Matosevic (AUS) 6-4, retired
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) bt Denis Istomin (UZB) 6-2, 3-6, 6-3
Marina Erakovic (NZL) bt Sabine Lisicki (GER x3) 6-1, retired