Djokovic, Federer set up dream semifinal
Novak Djokovic hammered an off-key Kei Nishikori and Roger Federer put on a masterclass against Tomas Berdych as they set up a dream semifinal at the Australian Open.
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. "It's always a great challenge to play Roger," Djokovic said of Thursday's semifinal. "You don't need to spend any words on his achievements, what he's done for the sport."
Both players will have a close eye on Wednesday's quarterfinals 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 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 practice 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." Thursday's semifinal 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 semifinal while Djokovic has 29. They were both on court for little over two hours on Tuesday. Djokovic only hit 11 groundstroke winners in disposing of Nishikori, who made a total of 54 unforced errors and had his service broken six times.
Earlier Federer reached his 12th Australian Open semifinal in 13 years with a clinical straight-sets win over Berdych in two hours, 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."