World number one Novak Djokovic has booked a place in the semi-finals of the 2016 Australian Open with a comprehensive win over Japan’s Kei Nishikori at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
The Serbian cruised to victory 6-3 6-2 6-4 over the seventh seed and although he was rarely tested by his out-of-sorts opponent, there is plenty of room for improvement ahead of his last four match.
Djokovic, who has won the tournament after reaching the semi-finals every time during the last five years, will take on his familiar foe Roger Federer after the Swiss overcame Thomas Berdych 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-4.
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Speaking to Jim Courier in a post-match interview, Djokovic joked about his longstanding rivalry with the 34-year-old, saying he expects another tense battle against the 17-time Grand Slam champion.
“I’ve played Roger 44 times and Rafa 45, so it feels like half of my career matches are against these two guys. It’s always a great challenge,” he said.
“Roger, you don’t need to spend words on what he’s achieved. It’s going to be a great match.”
The match between the first and third seeds shapes up to be a mouthwatering encounter with their head-to-head record locked at 22 wins apiece.
Djokovic emerged victorious in their most recent meeting at the ATP World Tour Finals in London last November, taking the match 6-3 6-4 at the O2 Arena.
However, the last ten clashes between the pair could hardly be closer with the Serb leading by a thread 6-4.
The 28-year-old has been far from his imperious best at the Australian Open so far and could be sweating on his poor form prior to facing arguably the greatest player of all-time on Thursday.
Federer has dropped just one set in Melbourne up to this stage of the tournament, whereas Djokovic escaped a quarter-final battle with Giles Simon by the skin of his teeth 6-3 6-7 (1) 6-4 4-6 6-3.
However, if the intensity of their previous matches are anything to go by, this semi-final has all the makings of an Australian Open classic whether or not Djokovic is at his best.