Federer tops Berdych, Djokovic beats Nishikori to set up semifinals clash
Catch up on all of the action, news and results from the first day of quarterfinals matches at the 2016 Australian Open on Tuesday that you may have missed while you were sleeping.
Novak Djokovic was no match for No. 7-seed Kei Nishikori on Tuesday night in Melbourne, as the No. 1-seed rolled to a 6–3, 6–2, 6–4 victory in just over two hours. Djokovic got the win despite coming into the match a little bit unsettled from a tough five-set battle against Gilles Simon, where he hit 100 unforced errors on the match. As a result, the Serb did seem unfocused at times during the match, making uncharacteristic errors and decisions. Even still, Nishikori was unable to find the level that beat Djokovic in the 2014 U.S. Open semifinals and the World No. 1 advanced to his sixth Australian Open quarterfinal.
"I know Kei very well,” Djokovic said during his on-court interview after the match. “We played more than a few times in the last few years—I lost to him in the only Grand Slam match up we had in U.S. Open in 2014—so he’s not afraid to come out and play aggressive tennis, which he did in the first few games. I just needed to weather the storm and try to hang in there and wait for my opportunities. I thought I did well in important moments.”
As a result of his match against Simon, which lasted more than four hours, Djokovic said he did not practice on Monday ahead of his match against Nishikori.
“I didn’t hit a tennis ball,” he said. “Sometimes it’s actually good to rest your mind and rest your body. Less is more sometimes.”
Djokovic will meet No. 3-seed Roger Federer in the semifinals after the Swiss beat No. 6-seed Tomas Berdych 7–6(4), 6–2, 6–4 on Tuesday. Playing for the 22nd time in their careers, Federer and Berdych played a competitive first set, trading breaks in the third and fourth games, but ultimately the Czech couldn't hold off his Swiss opponent in the tiebreak. From there, Federer carried the momentum throughout the rest of the match to close out the win to advance to the semifinals at the Australian Open for the 12th time in the last 13 years.
"I think the first set was tough. It was the one that took the longest, had the most importance of all the sets, in my opinion," Federer said after the match. "It was definitely key to the rest of the match because I think it maybe might've taken some energy out of Tomas. Who knows? If not physical, also mental....He's got a lot of power. He knows how to do it. So I was happy that on both occasions, first and third, I was able to react quickly. The second set, when I did have the break, I was able to roll with it."
Federer played an attacking game against Berdych, winning 24 of 29 net approaches on the match.
“I was definitely expecting the game like that,” Berdych said after the loss. “He come up with a game that it was really good. You know, he was playing really, really aggressive, without any mistakes, without any unforced errors. He was just too good today. I mean, that's it.”
Federer will compete in the semifinals of a major for the 39th time in his career against a solid returner in Djokovic, which could affect his strategy going into the night match.
“You know, looking at the stats it's an easy thing. I mean, I do feel really good at net since a few years now. 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 of 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?’ Yeah, how do these people return?”
When they meet in the semifinals on Thursday night, Federer and Djokovic will face-off for the 45th time in their careers.