The Big 4 have arrived in the Australian Open semifinals.
Joining the Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal blockbuster, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 4 Andy Murray lined-up their semifinal meeting on Wednesday with straight-set victories in Melbourne.
Djokovic defeated No. 5 seed David Ferrer 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-1, and Murray ground down a fatigued No. 24 seed Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.
“It was a great match. We played almost three hours,” Djokovic said. “After a couple of games I was feeling, ‘Wow, this is going to be a long night.’ You have to hang in there with a player like Ferrer. He has a great fighting spirit and he always makes you hit the extra shot. I figured out I needed to step in.”
Djokovic added that he himself will also enjoy the Federer-Nadal tussle in the other half of the draw.
“I will enjoy it from my couch,” Djokovic said. “Every time they play against each other is a treat for us players and all the fans. I will have dinner at home and watch with my family.”
Nishikori was at a disadvantage from the beginning of the match against Murray, coming off a long five-set win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
“I think I just didn’t play good enough to beat him,” Nishikori said. “He was making me run side to side all the time. Same time was tough for me to play longer points.”
Visibly not on his “A” game, Murray was nonetheless up to the challenge of moving into the all-star semifinals.
“There were quite a few good rallies,” Murray said. “He came up with some good shots. A lot of the long points, the fun rallies, he was winning, he came up with some great shots. But I was just a little bit more solid today and probably had a little bit more in the tank than he did. He played three long matches. With the way that he plays, he needs to play a lot of long rallies. That was to my advantage today.”
In women’s quarterfinal play on Wednesday, world No. 2 Petra Kvitova and former No. 1 Maria Sharapova won to set up a rematch of the 2011 Wimbledon final.
Sharapova overpowered fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova, crushing 26 winners in a 6-2, 6-3 power display to move into the semis.
“I thought she would play really well coming off a big win, probably the biggest in her career, so it was important for me to not give her much of a look at the open court,” Sharapova said. “I wanted to take advantage of my game and improve from the previous match. I was solid today and stepped up when I had to.”
Makarova was often off-balance or on the run during points, feeling the brunt of the Sharapova ground game.
“Maria was too good,” Makarova said. “Maybe I couldn’t show my best tennis because she was pushing me all the time. I also missed a lot of easy balls — I felt I needed to hit harder.”
Kvitova was less than dominant in a nervous 6-4, 6-4 win over unseeded Italian Sara Errani.
“In the beginning I was a little nervous because I knew everyone was expecting it would be easy. It was probably in my head,” Kvitova said. “Sara was playing very well, too — she had to be, because she won all the matches before.”
Sharapova will look to draw on her Grand Slam experience in ending a losing streak against Kvitova.
“I’ve lost to her the last couple of times, obviously the big one in Wimbledon,” Sharapova said. “I think she is the one to beat right now. She’s playing the best tennis in her career, coming off so many wins last year. I’m looking forward to the match-up — I don’t like losing so many times in a row, so I’ll try my best.”
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