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Tenth Time Lucky...Nishikori Into Final

Madrid, Spain

Nishikori© Getty ImagesKei Nishikori is through to his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final.

It took 10 match points and just under three hours on court, but Kei Nishikori is through to his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final after edging David Ferrer 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-3 at the Mutua Madrid Open on Saturday night.

Nishikori is set to become the first Japanese man ever to rank in the Top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on Monday and will look to crown a career-defining week tomorrow when he faces Rafael Nadal in the final at the Caja Magica.

Nishikori will need to overturn a 0-6 FedEx ATP Head2Head deficit against Nadal, whom he lost to in the Australian Open fourth round in January. He has only ever taken one set off the Spaniard before.

In the longest match of the tournament at two hours and 56 minutes, Nishikori won a second titanic contest against Ferrer, having also pipped the Spaniard last month in Miami in a third-set tie-break.

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The 24-year-old Nishikori fought back from a 5-2 deficit in the first set to clinch the opener in a tie-break and looked good for a straight-sets win when he earned match point in the 10th game of the second set, with Ferrer serving a 4-5. The Spaniard denied Nishikori with an ace down the middle, though, and then converted his fifth break point in the 11th game to level the match.

After saving a break point in the fifth game of the decider, Nishikori broke Ferrer for a 4-2 lead and again appeared poised for victory as he served at 5-3, 40/0. But Ferrer was not ready to relinquish the match. In a game exceeding 17 minutes, the crowd at the Caja Magica was on the edge of its seat as break points and match points were traded. Finally, after saving four break points, Nishikori converted his 10th match point - ninth of the game - as Ferrer went wide from the baseline. 

Nishikori claimed his 14th win in succession, taking in a semi-final showing in Miami (where he was forced to pull out prior to the match) and his first ATP World Tour clay-court title two weeks ago at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Giraldo). By reaching the final in Madrid, the Shimane native is projected to rise to a career-high World No. 9 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

The fifth-seeded Ferrer was bidding to reach his first Madrid final, having also fallen at the semi-final stage in 2010 (l. to Federer). The Valencia native has a 25-9 match record on the season, highlighted by winning the Buenos Aires title (d. Fognini) in February.

"Now I'm hurting because I've lost a really tough match," said Ferrer. "I had my opportunities too, especially in the first set. He played at a really high level. I think I let him go up in the first set. Tomorrow I'll see it another way. I'll be more positive. Not because I've been there, because I made to the to the semi-finals and had good feelings here. It hurts me not being able to be in the final tomorrow."

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