(February 23, 2013) -- Kei Nishikori reached his fifth career final and kept alive his bid to become the first Japanese title winner at the U.S. National Indoors Championships on Saturday when his opponent Marinko Matosevic retired after dropping the first set with a foot injury.
Nishikori, seeded fifth and now 10-2 on the season, will bid for his third career title. Asia's top player, Nishikori's last title came at Tokyo last autumn. It was the highlight of a fantastic season that saw Nishikori become the first Japanese player to finish a season inside the ATP's top 20.
After upsetting top seed Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals, Nishikori only needed to spend 37 minutes on the court in Saturday's semifinal, as Matosevic suffered from a bone bruise in the bottom of his right foot and could not continue.
"He was playing well from the beginning," said Nishikori. "It's lucky for me to play just one set and feel fresh for tomorrow."
Nishikori's opponent in Sunday's final spent an hour and fifty minutes on court during his three-set victory over Denis Istomin, but Feliciano Lopez is more than happy to have kept his hopes for a first title since 2010 alive with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory.
Lopez will contest his eighth final, and will be looking for his third career title just like Nishikori. After winning his first-round match over Benjamin Becker in three sets, Lopez received a walkover when Tommy Haas pulled out of the draw with a viral illness.
On Friday evening, Lopez dashed the hopes of 20-year-old American Jack Sock with a straight set win, the 300th of his career.
Lopez, who had been sidelined with a wrist injury for the last few weeks, defeated Nishikori in their only previous matchup on clay in Barcelona in 2011.
"He's a great player," said the 31-year-old, of Nishikori. "He's in very good shape. I think it's going to be a tough match."
Today, Lopez fired 8 aces and saved four of the five break points he faced. In the decider, Lopez held off Uzbekistan's No. 1 by saving four of four break points.
Wawrinka, Ferrer to meet in Buenos Aires Final
Third-seeded Stan Wawrinka notched a minor upset over second-seeded Nicolas Almagro on the red clay in Buenos Aires to set up a final clash with David Ferrer.
The 27-year-old has now won two straight over Almagro, and owns a 5-3 career edge over the Spaniard after the 6-3, 7-5 win. Wawrinka also reached the semifinals in Buenos Aires in 2011 and 2012, and he bowed out to Almagro in three sets last year.
The World No. 17 will bid for his fourth career title against David Ferrer on Sunday. Ferrer blasted past compatriot Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-2.
Currently second among active ATP players in clay-court wins with 242, Ferrer will be bidding for his 20th career title on Sunday, and his second of 2013.
Ferrer's victory over Robredo was his sixth in eight career matches against him, and third in a row.
The Spaniard owns a 6-3 career edge over Wawrinka, and has taken five of the last six against the Swiss No. 2.