Novak Djokovic had no problems getting into the semifinals for a second straight year at the Australian Open. The five time winner of the tournament and defending champion etched out a clean straight sets win over Kei Nishikori winning 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 at Rod Laver Arena Tuesday night. It became his 55th win at Melbourne Park setting him up for another huge semifinal matchup.
Two of the strongest competitors in the Men’s Draw got at it for just the seventh time where the Serb has been victorious the last four straight dating back to Paris of 2014. The seventh seeded Japanese star worked Djokovic in a thrilling four setter to move on in the U.S. Open as a finalist. Since the start of the tournament, both players have been winning but not at the cost of facing some adversity.
Nishikori held off Guillermo Garcia-Lopez after he took the second set but fell under the press in the late stages. Gilles Simon put a scare on Djokovic for the first time as he nearly pulled off the upset but was defeated after a four-hour match. With the same to be expected in the top part of the quarterfinal, Djokovic and Nishikori will be at each other’s throats from start to finish.
That was the case through the start of the first set with Djokovic and Nishikori held service through five games before there was a break. It was the Serb who made the push in the sixth where a double fault on deuce caused the Japanese star to fall out of the pattern and allow a tie a three.
The small mistake cost him as Djokovic went on to take the next three with two holds and a break finishing things in 32 minutes. Djokovic had a terrific outing landing 9 of 12 on serve and 11 of 13 during his second attempts indicating a strong grip on his opponent.
Nishikori got the second set underway but his forehand shots were not going well despite all his attempts to remedy the situation. It looked that way in the second when he had the edge on Djokovic, but the forehand put both of them into the longest game of the match so far. Three breaks on deuce ended with the Serb leveling early thanks to a winner on the forehand.
Hard work got Nishikori on the scoreboard in the third but saw himself in a gap after the fourth. He lost the game on his backhand causing an unforced error putting him down three games. The margin grew to four as Djokovic positioned himself for another win of the set but a last ditch effort came for the struggling Japanese tennis star.
He pulled off two points from a tie in the seventh forcing Djokovic in a rally. The Serb hit the ball off his backhand but watched the ball go into the net. He recovered winning the set after two breaks on deuce to put him well on the path towards a match win.
He had to deal with Nishikori’s undying efforts to pull a miracle off despite being down two sets. With the ball in his hands to start a second time, he got an impressive win holding control on deuce before landing an ace to lead off. He made it a 2-0 score before his opponent had the ability to challenge. Djokovic got it done breaking Nishikori on serve to end the short losing streak. He responded back by blasting out a triple break before gaining his third win on a forehanded winner.
Djokovic pulled off the same feat to get back within a game before serving in the sixth. He got level with Nishikori before splitting away to get back on course for the match win. After winning a two-break victory in the seventh, all that was left was for the Serb to close the quarterfinal match and call it a night.
The Japanese star knew he was going down but not without fighting. He earned a win in the ninth before all the doors shut in front of his face. Djokovic took the match win on point landing the winner on service to end what was thought to be an epic match but finished in two hour and six minutes.
Though the third set took the longest, Djokovic still showed resilience in the face of such a strong competitor. More would be on the way before a secured finals appearance could be locked in for the number one ranked player as he’d see Roger Federer in the semifinal for the third time and first since 2011.