Djokovic destroys Nishikori to set up final showdown with Murray

The playing field may not be as level as the British fans would like, but they will get what they all wanted to see at the O2 Arena on Sunday: a showdown between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals title and the year-end No. 1 ranking.

To say Murray and Djokovic took differing paths to the championship match would be a gross understatement. After winning one of his round-robin contests 6-7(9), 6-4, 6-4 over Kei Nishikori in three hours and 20 minutes on Wednesday, the top-seeded Scot outlasted Milos Raonic 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(9) in the first semifinal on Saturday afternoon. He needed a whopping three hours and 38 minutes–while saving one match point–to advance.

Whereas Murray has played the two longest World Tour Finals matches since this event moved to London in 2009, Djokovic has coasted since dropping his first set of the week to Dominic Thiem. The four-time defending champion was especially dominant on Saturday night, when he destroyed Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-1 in the second semifinal. Djokovic broke serve an incredible six times and seven service games to prevail after a mere one hour and six minutes.

Nishikori was broken at 0-1 of the first set in what actually proved to be one of his most successful service games–four deuces. It went downhill from there for the Japanese underdog, who fell behind 4-0 before earning a rare scalp of the Djokovic serve.
Although Nishikori seemed destined for a second-set bagel while serving at 0-4, 0-30, he won four straight points to finally get back on the scoreboard. The world No. 5 had two game points to avoid a breadstick at 1-5, but he could not prolong his own agony and Djokovic capitalized on his first match point with an inside-out forehand winner.

This week’s second seed has now taken his last five World Tour Finals sets against Nishikori 6-0, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1, and 6-1.

“(It was) the best performance of the tournament (and it) came really at the right time,” Djokovic noted. “Everything kind of clicked together tonight. I felt really [good]. I started with a great pace, great concentration, dictating the play, (and) mixing up the pace. Everything was going well. I must be very pleased. I enjoyed myself.

“On the other hand, Kei was not obviously close to his best. The fact that he played late last night, it’s been a long year for him, long tournament, so he was probably a little bit tired.”

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