World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and world GOAT Roger Federer lined up a mouthwatering semifinal at the Australian Open on Tuesday after both players humbled Top 10 opponents in Melbourne.
Djokovic dissected No. 7 seed Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, and the No. 3-seeded Swiss stopped No. 6 Tomas Berdych 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-4.
“I sort of had a good start,” Nishikori said. “But when I lost the game with my serve, everything start, you know, changing. He start playing much better. I lost little bit confidence, start missing a lot.”
On a 13-match winning streak, Djokovic has won 36 of his past 37 matches. Djokovic with a title would join Rod Laver as players to win the Australian Open six times.
“Uniqlo won tonight. That’s for sure,” said Djokovic of the sponsor that he and Nishikori share. “[The goal was] to decrease the unforced errors ratio. I’ve done that. I knew that I’m going to play against an opponent that plays very fast, faster than [Gilles] Simon. That makes also more unforced errors…In important points and moments I managed to stay composed and make him play an extra shot. Overall it was a very solid performance…I have to be satisfied. I reached semifinals. I won against a Top 10 player in straight sets. Comparing to the fourth round match, this was much better. That makes me confident and encourages me for the next one.”
It is the 12th Aussie Open semifinal for Federer.
“I’m very, very happy,” the Swiss said. “Tomas has caused me a lot of problems over the years. He’s one of the guys who makes you a better player. He’s beaten me on the biggest courts around the world.”
Federer’s level of play was evident on the stats sheet — 48 winners to 26 unforced errors, and 24 of 29 points won at the net.
“He was playing really, really aggressive, without any mistakes, without any unforced errors,” Berdych said. “He was just too good today. I mean, that’s it. That’s the way that he needed to play this time. He did it, I would say, quite accurately today.”
Federer will need to maintain his strong net philosophy against the world No. 1.
“I do feel really good at the net since a few years now,” the Swiss said. “It’s where it all sort of started for me when I came on tour. I know how it works up there. I still think there’s room for improvement. Every player manages to defend or pass it differently. The question is, do you come in off a low ball because you’re being dragged in, or are you coming in on your terms? You would assume that these are not stats you can keep up. It’s okay. As long as you’re coming in on the right plays, it’s okay to be beat.”
After losing his two previous meetings at majors to Berdych, Federer improved to 16-6 career against the Czech.
Looking ahead to the semifinal, Federer won their most recent meeting at the ATP year-end championships to bring his career head-to-head with Djokovic to 22-22. Djokovic has won the last three meetings with Federer at the Slam level.
“I don’t think there is too much difference playing Roger in a Grand Slam,” the Serb said. “Any round feels like finals because of the fact that we are big rivals, we played so many times against each other. There’s a lot of tension. There’s a lot at stake. I’m expecting a great fight in two days.”
Wednesday quarterfinal action in Melbourne will see (8) David Ferrer vs. (2) Andy Murray, and (23) Gael Monfils vs. (13) Milos Raonic.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
John Isner has lost eight straight matches against Top 10 players at Slams…Maria Sharapova hasn’t beaten Serena Williams in 12 years…The average life spa of your typical tennis pro’s career is around three years…Since the beginning of 2012, Serena Williams has won more than 90% of her matches against Top 10 opponents…Patrick Mouratoglou says he didn’t see Serena Williams for two months after the US Open, so guess the coach/lover relationship is just coach. Unless it is a really, really open relationship. Once you’ve banged your coach, guess it’s always there for the taking…The Pinnacle Sports betting website shut down betting on a mixed doubles match at the Australian Open, Lara Arruabarrena/David Marrero vs. Andrea Hlavackova/Lukasz Kubot, after large amounts of money started coming in on Hlavackova/Kubot and the site suspected a match fix. Hlavackova/Kubot won the match 6-0, 6-3. Arruabarrena/Marrero said afterwards there was no fix, and apparently someone may have had inside knowledge about a Marrero knee injury going into the match. Both teams were subsequently interviewed by the Tennis Integrity Unit, which afterwards made no statement and continued to operate in darkness…Aussie Bernard “The Tank Engine” Tomic says Roger Federer is “nowhere near Novak right now,” while Tomic is probably somewhere at a strip club right now…Belinda Bencic says she expected Maria Sharapova’s grunt/scream to be louder…Despite her plans to be unable to compete in Romania’s upcoming Fed Cup match due to nose surgery, Simona Halep will make the trip with the team to cheer them on….China’s Zhang Shuai was 0-14 at Grand Slams before this year qualifying and reaching the quarters at the Aussie Open. Apparently her parents, who have never previously traveled with her, are her lucky charm this year in Melbourne. Zhang says her American nickname is not Serena as some thought, but is Rose, and she doesn’t like either of them…Angie Kerber reached her first Aussie Open quarterfinal after fending off a match point in the first round: “I was actually with one leg on the plane back home. The first matches are always tough in the Grand Slams. We saw that many seeded player lost in the first few rounds.”…Andy Murray is 0-4 in Aussie Open finals…Johanna Konta lost in the Aussie Open qualifying the previous three years…Gael Monfils on diving for balls on the hardcourts in Melbourne: “Maybe something snaps in my mind, and I just go for it — I just fly.”
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