Djokovic sets up dream semi-final with Federer at Australian Open
Serbian world No 1 hammers Kei Nishikori after Swiss ace earlier puts on masterclass against Tomas Berdych
Novak Djokovic hammered an off-key Kei Nishikori and Roger Federer put on a masterclass against Tomas Berdych as they set up a dream semi-final at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Defending champion Djokovic recovered strongly from his five-set struggle against Gilles Simon as he ousted Nishikori 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, after Federer swept aside Berdych 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-4.
Djokovic is seeking his 11th grand slam title while Federer, 34, is looking to extend his record tally to 18 – and both will want to take charge of their head-to-head, which is locked at 22-22.
“Any round [against Federer] feels like a final because of the fact that we are, you know, big rivals, we played so many times against each other,” Djokovic said.
“There’s a lot of tension. There’s a lot at stake. I’m expecting a great fight in two days.
Both players will have a close eye on Wednesday’s quarter-finals pitting Andy Murray against David Ferrer and Milos Raonic against Gael Monfils.
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Djokovic will start as favourite against Federer after he beat him in the Wimbledon and US Open finals last year on his way to winning three grand slam titles and finishing runner-up at the French Open.
The Serb made 100 unforced errors and was pushed all the way in Sunday’s five-set struggle with Simon, but he said a day away from tennis had done him the world of good.
“I didn’t practice [on Monday]. I didn’t hit a tennis ball,” he said. “It happens sometimes, it’s actually good to rest your mind, rest your body. Less is more sometimes.”
Thursday’s semi-final promises to be a test of Djokovic’s continued dominance of men’s tennis, after his achievement in losing only one grand slam match last season.
In a sign of the pair’s hold on men’s tennis, Federer is into his 39th grand slam semi-final while Djokovic has 29. They were both on court for little over two hours on Tuesday.
Djokovic only hit 11 groundstroke winners in disposing of Nishikori, who made a total of 54 unforced errors and had his service broken six times.
“I think today was more [(about] my game. I was missing too much, especially first couple of sets. Lost many easy games,” said Nishikori, who was also troubled by a leg injury.