Novak Djokovic heaped praise on Kei Nishikori following their semi-final clash at the Mutua Madrid Open on Saturday.
The Serb was made to work hard for his 6-3, 7-6(7-4) win over Nishikori, who rallied to save four match points and break Djokovic to push the second set into a tiebreaker.
“I think Kei has started exceptionally well so he obviously knows what his game plan is and what he wanted to do, and he started executing very efficiently from the very first point,” the world number one told atpworldtour.com after the match.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) May 7, 2016
“So I knew it was going to be a tough match. Obviously, he was feeling the ball very well, trying to be aggressive on every shorter ball, hitting through, and trying to finish off the points.
“It wasn’t easy because the conditions were different as well. I played practically an indoor match yesterday in very pleasing conditions. Today, windy and very cold. So you had to handle all these circumstances and try to stay mentally tough.
“I’m just proud to overcome this kind of challenge. Kei did play well. No doubt about that. It was a close match.”
The win earns Djokovic a place in the final where he faces world number two Andy Murray on Sunday.
Djokovic is on a thrilling run against top ten players, winning his last 14 matches and dropping just one set in the process.