Sports

Tasty test for Kei

As a culinary destination, Florida makes a great tennis base, according to Kei Nishikori, who pines for the food of his home country Japan.

Like dozens of Tour players, Nishikori has been based in the southern US state for years, honing his game in the sun at the start of each season.

A massive celebrity in Japan, Nishikori's straight-set thrashing of David Ferrer yesterday put him into his second quarter-final at the Australian Open.

Having become the first man from an Asian country to reach a Grand Slam final at the US Open, Nishikori's progress at Melbourne Park will no doubt raise hopes that he can go one better in the year's first Major.

SHOWDOWN

People in Florida probably would not be jumping up and down about it, according to the fifth seed, who booked a quarter-final showdown with defending champion Stan Wawrinka.

"Yeah, (in) Florida nobody talks to me. In Japan, yes, it's a little bit different," the 25-year-old said, after his win.

"You know, lots of people recognise me. Not easy to walk on the street. But I really enjoy living in Japan because that's my home. I feel more comfortable living in Japan.

"They have much better food, I have to say."

While the Japanese hero and Swiss star Wawrinka remain in contention, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic will be heavily favoured to win the year's first Major.

Djokovic ensured he would contest his 23rd consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final after easing past Luxembourg journeyman Gilles Muller 6-4, 7-5, 7-5.

The Serb was pushed by the 42nd-ranked Muller, a big-serving left-hander who had the shots to rally with the top seed, but the four-time champion was almost bullet-proof on serve and cut the 31-year-old down repeatedly when he rushed to the net.

He booked a quarter-final clash with Canadian eighth seed Milos Raonic.

Djokovic, 27, who regularly practises with Raonic in Monaco where they both live, has been impressed by the tall Canadian's progress and commitment off the court and knows he will be a dangerous opponent.

"He's been playing some great tennis in the last 15 months. He deserves to be where he is now, top 10, coming closer to top five in the world," Djokovic added.

"Definitely a tough one. I need to be at my best, top of my game, in order to win that match."

- Reuters.

"He can hit balls forehand, backhand, a great backhand actually. He can hit anywhere, even from the back... Hopefully I can play another good match."

- Kei Nishikori, on his quarter-final opponent Stan Wawrinka

WHAT'S GONE

  • Stan Wawrinka bt Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (10/8)
  • Kei Nishikori bt David Ferrer 6-3, 6-3, 6-3
  • Milos Raonic bt Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (7/9), 6-3
  • Novak Djokovic bt Gilles Muller 6-4, 7-5, 7-5