Where was Chuck Barris when you needed him?
Because the US Open sure sounded like The Gong Show today with a loud gong going off in early the fourth set of the Quarterfinal match between No. 2 seed Andy Murray and No. 6 seed Kei Nishikori.
They replayed the break point for Murray and Nishikori was able to turn it around.
It set off the usually mild-mannered Scotsman, who argued with the chair umpire and tournament supervisor.
However to no avail.
Nishikori used it as a momentum turner and advanced to the Semifinals, 1-6 6-4 4-6 6-1 7-5.
“I don’t really look up for opponents,” Nishikori said of Murray’s outburst. “I think I was too focused today, so I couldn’t really have chance to see my opponents. Yeah, I don’t really care about what, you know, they doing. I have to stay focused all the time and I have to, you know, think what I have to do for next points.”
This was a classic match and something that makes the US Open so special. It had a little bit of everything, good serves, unforced errors, and two determined men at the top of their game.
It also gives Nishikori some revenge for Murray beating him in the Olympic Semifinals. It forced the Japanese player to settle for the bronze medal.
Today, was another story.
“I have been losing to Andy a lot,” Nishikori said. “I think seven times and I only won once. And especially this stage, you know, it’s big opportunity for me to play today’s match.
“Well, yeah, I was really confident. I was ready to play today’s match. Actually, we just played this year really long match. I think it was close to five hours in Davis Cup and I lost the match, so it was great to revenge, you know, from Davis Cup.”
It didn’t start that great for Nishikori, who couldn’t get out of his own way in the first. Too many unforced errors (14-3) giving Murray the set.
“I didn’t quite start well and lost 6-1,” he said. “I felt it was really quick and I was rushing a little bit and missing too much unforced errors.”
However, a 20 minute rain delay to close the roof and sent the players back to the locker room, allowed Nishikori to focus and “change his tennis.”
“I started get my rhythm back,” he said. “Yeah, many breaks today.”
And now he has a chance to go back to the finals, where he lost to Marin Cilic in 2014. The Japanese player looks like a stronger person today than when he came on the scene.
But first there are the Semis and he gets to face-up against either Stan Wawrinka or Juan Martin Del Porto. Both of whom are formidable opponents.
Del Porto has a good forehand and Wawrinka with a great backhand.
“I think it’s gonna be tough match today. Delpo is playing great tennis,” he said. “Yeah, I’m very excited to watch match tonight. I’m not sure who’s gonna win today. You know, my side I try to stay focused, you know, even though whoever comes, you know, for the next round, either way it’s gonna be tough. Try to stay calm and ready for next one.”
He will stay collected. Nishikori won the Sportsmanship Award from the USTA. That was on display today with his cool under pressure attitude.
“It’s a great honor to get sportsmanship,” he said. “Well, I mean, I try to stay calm and I try not to do too many up and downs, especially my mental side.
“I think especially today I think I did great, you know. Even though there was many times my focus went off, but especially during fourth and fifth set I tried to stay tough.”
And today was a greater prize than anything on The Gong Show.
Note: We made an error in an earlier edition, saying Nishikori lost to Novak Djokovic back in 2015. He lost to Marin Cilic. We regret the mistake.