Djokovic, Fed­erer set up dream semi­fi­nal

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

MEL­BOURNE:

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."

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