Kei Nishikori of Japan hits a return against Rafael Nadal of Spain during day five of the Rogers Cup at Uniprix Stadium on August 14, 2015 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Novak Djokovic had to fight off an upset bid from qualifier Ernests Gulbis, defeating the Latvian 5-7, 7-6 (9/7), 6-1 on Friday to reach the semifinals of the Montreal Masters.
But Rafael Nadal, like Djokovic a former champion at the event, was unable to escape an on-form Kei Nishikori as the fourth seed sent out the Spaniard 6-2, 6-4 thanks in part to six double-faults from Nadal. The red-hot Nishikori is riding a wave of momentum from his hardcourt title last week in Washington and will next face second seed Andy Murray who beat French 10th-seeded holder Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-4 and took revenge for a semi-final loss a year ago in Canada.
Nishikori won his first match against Nadal after seven losses, taking just under 90 minutes to advance in his best Canadian showing. "It took a long time to finally beat him, but I'm very happy to win my first match against Rafael," said Nishikori. "I knew I have to be aggressive, so I have to change some tactics to play against Rafa. "Everything was feeling well today. I felt like everything was going in. "I mean, he's still not maybe 100 per cent, but he's Rafa."
Seventh seed Nadal was playing in Canada for the first time since winning his third title here in 2013 and he now stands 28-7 in the country.
Djokovic found himself down a set and a break against Gulbis.
Gulbis, whose career best was a Roland Garros semi-final in 2014, has since gone into a funk in 2015.But he forced his world number one to save two match points in the second-set tiebreaker of a thriller lasting two and a half hours. Djokovic levelled at a set apiece and re-established order as he ran away with the third set for the win.
"Ernests was a better player for two sets - unfortunately he missed two match points," Djkovic said. "I wasn't very happy with my game. But you have to muscle it out sometimes and I had to put in the effort. "One day you play well, the other you don't. It's important to stay committed to every point, believe, fight. That's what gets you out of trouble."
Djokovic is bidding for his fourth Canadian title.
Kei Nishikori defeated Rafael Nadal to enter the semifinals. — AP