Aus Open: Djokovic sets up semis date with Federer

The world number one beat an off-key Nishikori 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in two hours, seven minutes on Rod Laver Arena to reach the last four.

Published : Jan 26, 2016 16:39 IST , Melbourne

Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning against Kei Nishikori.
Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning against Kei Nishikori.

Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning against Kei Nishikori.

Five-time winner Novak Djokovic downed Japan's Kei Nishikori on Tuesday to set up a much-anticipated Australian Open semi-final with Roger Federer. The world number one overcame an off-key Nishikori 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in two hours, seven minutes on Rod Laver Arena to reach the last four.

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Djokovic will now face 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer in their 45th meeting with each player winning 22 times so far.

It will be 10-time major-winner Djokovic's 29th Grand Slam semi-final and sixth in Melbourne.

"It's always a great challenge to play Roger," Djokovic said of Thursday's semi-final. "You don't need to spend any words on his achievements, what he's done for the sport. He's a great champion, I have a lot of respect for him and we're going to have a good match."

Djokovic, with his win over Nishikori, is on a 19-match Grand Slam winning streak and has not lost at a major tournament since he was defeated by Stan Wawrinka in last year's French Open final.

The Serb's longest Grand Slam streak stands at 27, which took in the titles at 2011 Wimbledon, the 2011 US Open and the 2012 Australian Open, and a runner-up finish at 2012 Roland Garros.

Seventh seed Nishikori beaten Djokovic in the 2014 US Open semi-finals but he was well off the pace against the Serb in their Melbourne quarter-final.

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.

Nishikori looked well off his game and lost his service at 3-2 in the first set with a badly miscued double-fault.

Djokovic strung together nine straight points to take a grip on the set and wrapped it up off an overhit Nishikori forehand on set point.

The match deteriorated with both players guilty of volleying errors, but Nishikori's early service break proved decisive as Djokovic took a two sets lead with a strong first serve.

The world number one came under pressure after losing serve in the second game of the third set, only for Nishikori to hand back the break with a long forehand on break point.

Djokovic was again broken as Nishikori battled to get back into the contest at 3-1, only for the Japanese hope to again drop his next service. Nishikori lost his third straight service game as the top seed powered to victory on his third match point with a lightning backhand winner.

It's off-key Nishikori

Nishikori's Australian Open fizzled out under an avalanche of errors. The Japanese hope was well off his game and gave the world number one a helping hand in a ragged 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 surrender in a little over two hours on Rod Laver Arena. Nishikori had offered promise of pushing on in the year's opening Grand Slam by reaching the fourth round with a convincing win over former a finalist, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

But the win appeared to take its toll with Nishikori picking up a right leg injury in the Tsonga win.

"Yeah, had little bit in the last match. It was little bit sore, but was okay," Nishikori said.

He looked well below his earlier form as he faltered with 54 unforced errors, six service breaks, four double-faults and a below-par serve.

"I think today was more (about) my game. I was missing too much, especially first couple sets. Lost many easy games," Nishikori lamented. "I couldn't make him work hard today. I mean, yes, he played good. But I couldn't play good tennis today."

It was a bitter setback for Nishikori, under the coaching of former French Open champion Michael Chang, who was looking to make an impression at the year's first Grand Slam. Nishikori beat Djokovic in the 2014 US Open semi-finals but he was never in a place to reproduce that kind of performance against the Serb in their Melbourne quarter-final.

"I'm really disappointed about my game. But he played good tennis," Nishikori said.

It was Nishikori's third Australian Open quarter-final appearance and fifth overall in Grand Slams, one less than the Japanese record of six held by Jiro Satoh in the 1930s. It also equalled Nishikori's best result at the Australian Open after he reached the last eight in 2012 and last year.

Match statistics

Novak Djokovic (1) bt Kei Nishikori (7) 6-3, 6-2, 6-4

Time: 2hr 7min

Djokovic - Nishikori

6 Aces 9

2 Double Faults 4

22 Winners 31

27 Unforced Errors 54

6/11 Break Point Conversions 2/8

99 Total Points Won 74

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