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Nishioka, Kyrgios book final duel

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka shocked eighth-ranked Andrey Rublev to join Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios in reaching Sunday’s ATP and WTA Washington Open men’s final with straight-set triumphs.

Nishioka, a 96th-ranked lefthander, stunned top seed Rublev 6-3, 6-4 in 80 minutes to book his first ATP final since 2020 at Delray Beach.

“Just enjoy the day tomorrow,” Nishioka said.

“Just play my best. (I’m) excited.”

Australia’s 63rd-ranked Kyrgios ousted Sweden’s 115th-ranked Mikael Ymer 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 and reached back-to-back tour-level finals for the first time in his career.

The 27-year-old Aussie, who lost to Novak Djokovic last month in his first Grand Slam final, won the most recent of his six ATP titles at Washington in 2019.

“It was a tough-fought semifinal and I’m just happy to be in the final once again,” Kyrgios said.

“I didn’t play anywhere near my best tennis.”

Nishioka, who won his only ATP title in 2018 at Shenzhen, hadn’t won a tour-level match since March when the week began but has taken five this week and will rise to at least 54th in Monday’s world rankings.

He fired only 12 winners but took full advantage of Rublev’s 33 unforced errors and converted on 4-of-5 break points.

“I tried to be a little bit aggressive, because I knew Andrey was going to play aggressive,” Nishioka said.

“I needed to play a little bit aggressive to him.”

Kyrgios is 3-0 against Nishioka, most recently winning in the third round of his 2019 Washington title run.

“We’ve played many times, but he beat me every time since we were 16 years old,” Nishioka said.

“It’s really tough to play against him. He doesn’t have any pace. He just hits the ball so hard every time. Very tough to break his service games.”

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