Stan Wawrinka has marched on past Kei Nishikori, winning in straight sets 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6) in two hours and four minutes to book a place on the semi final of the Australian Open against either Novak Djokovic or Milos Raonic.
A late Nishikori rally at two sets down was not enough to overcome a commanding and powerful performance by the defending champion, who is yet to drop a set in the competition.
Stan's the man with the Golden (back)hand
With Wawrinka bullying the fifth seed, using a lethal backhand controlling the match from the back of the court, Nishikori could do little to impact proceedings. His opponent looked comfortable and at home from the start taking early break leads in the first and third sets.
The score would have been more emphatic had Wawrinka taken advantage of his break points – converting just three of 11 chances. Nishikori failed to earn a single break point until the final game of the second set.
The Swiss’ service game was on point; winning 86 percent of his first serve, and hit his 20th ace of the match to win. Nishikori, who lost 15 service points, was not strong enough to compete with Wawrinka's cross court backhands.
“First couple of games I was missing so much, so may unforced errors,” said Nishikori.
"First couple of games I was missing so much, so may unforced errors"
“I was going for too much.”
The Japanese star blamed the loss on his inability to deal with Wawrinka’s serve, telling reporters: “He was serving really well today. It was tough to find my game today and he was playing really aggressive, great backhand.”
The US Open runner up made a monumental effort in the final set taking a 2-0 lead but broke leading tiebreaker in the final set. The Japanese star saved five match points, levelling the score at 6-6.
However Nishikori’s decision to hit an ill advised drop shot that slid into the net gave Wawrinka a 7-6 advantage, and a sixth match point to close out the contest and seal a place in the semi-final.
“I am still nervous at the end of the tiebreak”, said Wawrinka.
“It’s never easy. He is returning well and you have to go for it. I was a little bit defensive but I am happy to get through.”