Germany’s Alexander Zverev dominated Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-4 Saturday in a showdown of top-10 rivals to reach the ATP and WTA Citi Open final against South Africa’s Kevin Anderson.
Zverev, ranked a career-best eighth this week, dropped only seven points on his serve and never faced a break point in the 63-minute affair, extending ninth-ranked Nishikori’s ATP title drought to 30 events over 18 months.
The 20-year-old from Hamburg will try for his fifth career title and fourth of the year Sunday against 45th-ranked Anderson, who ousted 19th- ranked American Jack Sock 6-3, 6-4 on the Washington hardcourts.
“It would mean a lot,” Zverev said. “Getting the hardcourt season started with a win would be great.”
Zverev dominated from the start, winning the first 10 points and 12 of the first 13, Nishikori netting a backhand to surrender a decisive break at love in the second game. Both men held out from there, Zverev taking the first set in 28 minutes.
Zverev hit a forehand winner to break for a 2-1 lead in the second set and held to the finish, claiming victory when Nishikori netted a forehand.
“I played a great match,” Zverev said. “I started 3-0. That helped the confidence. I played really well.”
Zverev, whose fourth-round Wimbledon run was his Grand Slam best, won 31- of-33 first-serve points, all 13 in the first set, and 9-of-14 on his second serve.
Zverev is 2-0 against Anderson, winning a 2015 Washington second-round match and a first-round meeting in May on his way to the Rome title, his third crown of 2017 after Montpellier and Munich.
“It’s going to be a tough match. Alex has had a great year,” Anderson said. “For me it’s really focusing on things I can do and playing the best I can.”
Anderson reached his first final since winning his third career ATP title in 2015 at Winston-Salem. The lanky 31-year-old from Johannesburg also won at Delray Beach in 2012 and his hometown in 2011.
Nishikori, the 2015 Washington champion, last raised a trophy at Memphis in February 2016, a run that includes six finals losses.
“I don’t feel like last year yet, but I feel like if I keep playing my best tennis it will come back,” Nishikori said.
Nishikori was also tired after two long matches that finished after midnight because of rain.
“Just a bit tough this week,” Nishikori said. “I had two matches finish at 2 a.m. It wasn’t easy to go to sleep.
“It’s not the same when you go to sleep at 4 a.m. It has been a little bit crazy. I’ve never had it like this before.”