Saturday at the 2015 Citi Open was a tale of two brackets.
On the men's side, favorites held serve and carved out spots in the final clash. Meanwhile, the women's draw was dominated by upsets from up-and-coming talents.
With John Isner, Kei Nishikori, Sloane Stephens and Marin Cilic all in action during the semifinals, here's a look at how things played out in the nation's capital:
|2015 Citi Open Results - August 8|
|Men's Singles||No. 2 Kei Nishikori||No. 3 Marin Cilic||3-6, 6-1, 6-4|
|Men's Singles||No. 8 John Isner||Steve Johnson||3-6, 6-3, 7-6|
|Women's Singles||Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova||No. 1 Ekaterina Makarova||4-6, 6-3 (retired)|
|Women's Singles||Sloane Stephens||No. 2 Samantha Stosur||7-6, 6-0|
An updated look at the Citi Open draw can be found at the tournament's official website by clicking here.
In the highly anticipated rematch of the 2014 U.S. Open final between Nishikori and Cilic, Nishikori exacted revenge and sent the tournament's No. 3 seed packing in three sets.
"It's good to win against a top-10 player and especially Marin," Nishikori said, according to the Associated Press' Benjamin Standig (via the Charlotte Observer). "We had a battle last year at the U.S. Open. It's great to have revenge today, and I hope I can keep it going tomorrow."
While Nishikori was in early trouble after dropping the first set, 3-6, he didn't let that deter him. Rather, the world No. 5 blitzed Cilic, with a 6-1 showing in the second set before putting things away for good, 6-4, in the third.
The Citi Open's official Twitter account provided a look at the match's final point:
"I think I’m getting close to moving up in the top five,” Nishikori said prior to the Citi Open, according to the Washington Post's Ben Raby. "I think the experience that I have beating top-10 guys gives me a little confidence, and I think mentally I’ve gotten a lot stronger."
Turns out, that was a pretty prophetic statement.
According to Raby, Nishikori's win over Cilic ensured he will move up to the No. 4 spot in the world rankings in advance of the 2015 U.S. Open. It will be the highest Nishikori has ever resided on the list.
When all was said and done, Nishikori won 75 percent of his first services and saved 75 percent of his break points. But during a tumultuous first set, the Japanese maestro failed to save or win a single break point, while Cilic did just the opposite. Cilic also won 87 percent of his first services in the first set, but that figure plummeted to 50 percent in the second set and 52 percent in the third set.
Nishikori will meet American John Isner in the Citi Open final.
Isner held off fellow American Steve Johnson in three sets and even staved off three match points during a third-set tiebreak to claw back and take the decisive frame.
Isner has now won eight matches in a row after capturing a title at the ATP BB&T Atlanta Open last weekend. Back at the ATP Miami Open in April, Isner defeated Nishikori, 6-4, 6-3, to advance to the tournament semifinals.
The tournament's No. 8 seed may be the underdog entering Sunday's final based on raw rankings, but his wicked serve—he had 30 aces Saturday—could give Nishikori fits.
On the women's side, the day got started with a stunner, as Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova advanced to the Citi Open final after Ekaterina Makarova retired following just two sets.
Pavlyuchenkova dropped the first set, 4-6, and rebounded to win the second, 6-3. At that point, Makarova headed for the break, called her trainer over and had her previously wrapped lower right leg examined.
Makarova was in control throughout the first set by winning 73 percent of the total service points and 42 percent of the return points, but the numbers flipped drastically during the second set. As Makarova struggled to find her footing, Pavlyuchenkova won 20 of her 26 service points and tallied a 17 percent edge in return points won (40-23).
Pavlyuchenkova will now square off against Sloane Stephens in the women's final after the American downed Samantha Stosur in straight sets. Stephens advanced to her first-ever WTA final with the win.
And truth be told, Stephens could not have asked for the draw to shake out any better. Not only did she clear a major obstacle by defeating the tournament's No. 2 seed Saturday night, but her reward is the unranked Pavlyuchenkova.
So with Stephens and Isner both locked into final showdowns in their respective brackets, the opportunity for an American sweep has presented itself entering the conclusion of the 2015 Citi Open.
And if play at the U.S. Open appetizer has been any indication, the tournament's conclusion should be dominated by compelling tennis.