Washington: Japan`s Kei Nishikori defeated Croatia`s Marin Cilic 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in a rematch of last year`s US Open final on Saturday to reach the ATP and WTA Washington Open final.
The 25-year-old Asian number one took a small measure of revenge by ousting the reigning US Open champion and advanced to Sunday`s final against the winner of a later semi-final between Americans John Isner and Steve Johnson.
Fifth-ranked Nishikori improved to 6-3 in their all-time rivalry, but missed a chance to become the first Asian man to win a Grand Slam title when he fell to eighth-ranked Cilic in last year`s Flushing Meadows championship match.
"I had to make some changes. He was playing very well at the start," Nishikori said. "I raised my game in the second set. I`m very happy to go to the final."
Nishikori, seeking his 10th career title after crowns at Memphis and Barcelona this year, is the first Washington finalist from Asia since Paradorn Srichaphan in 2002.
Cilic broke Nishikori in the second game of the match and jumped ahead 3-0 in the first 10 minutes.
In the fifth game, Cilic double faulted and netted a forehand to hand Nishikori break chances, but he missed the opportunities when attempts at forehand and backhand down the line winners each landed wide.
Cilic held to 4-1 and twice more to take the first set in 35 minutes.
Nishikori roared back in the second set. Cilic sent a backhand wide to surrender a break in the second game.
Nishikori broke again in the fourth and battled to hold to 5-0 in the 10-minute fifth game, three times denying Cilic on break points as he forced a third set.
Nishikori broke Cilic to open the final set but double-faulted away a break in the eighth game that pulled the Croatian level at 4-4.
The Japanese star responded by breaking Cilic again for a 5-4 lead and holding serve to end matters after two hours and two minutes.
Nishikori is 3-0 all-time against Johnson but lost to Isner this year in a Miami quarter-final in their only meeting.
Isner, who won last week`s Atlanta crown for the third year in a row, seeks his 11th career ATP title while Johnson hopes to reach his first final.
Johnson won their first meeting in last year`s second round at Washington but Isner has beaten him since at Shanghai, Monte Carlo and Nice.