Djokovic-Federer semi will be like a final
Djokovic expecting 'great fight' in semi-final against Federer, who feels he can beat anyone
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 yesterday.
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 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 today's quarter-finals pitting Andy Murray against David Ferrer and Milos Raonic against Gael Monfils.
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 last 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 practise yesterday. 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."
Tomorrow'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 a little over two hours yesterday.
Djokovic hit only 11 groundstroke winners in disposing of Nishikori, who made a total of 54 unforced errors and had his service broken six times.
"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.
"I couldn't make him work hard today. I mean, yes, he played good. But I couldn't play good tennis today."
Earlier, Federer reached his 12th Australian Open semi-final in 13 years with a clinical straight-set win over Berdych in two hours and 16 minutes.
The Swiss has high hopes he can add a fifth Australian Open title, even though his last Grand Slam success was back at Wimbledon in 2012.
"It means a lot. It's part of the reason why I'm still playing," Federer said.
"I feel like I'm competitive at the top. I can beat all the guys on tour.
"It's nice now that in the last three Slams I've been as consistent as I have been."
Federer said he was enjoying his tennis after adding former world No. 3 Ivan Ljubicic to his coaching team, along with long-time mentor Severin Luthi.
"I'm playing good tennis, fun tennis for me anyway. I really enjoy being able to come to the net more like back in the day.
"So I'm very pleased. It would mean a lot to me (to win more Slams), no doubt about it."
Federer had few concerns against the strong-serving Berdych and extended his career record to 16-6 to deny the Czech a third straight semi-final appearance in Melbourne. - AFP.
MEN'S SINGLES Q-FINALS
- Novak Djokovic (x1) bt Kei Nishikori (x7) 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
- Roger Federer (x3) bt Tomas Berdych (x6) 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-4