Murray sweeps past Nishikori, Djokovic too strong for Ferrer to set up Australian Open semi-final showdown
Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic both progressed into the semi-finals of the Australian Open on Wednesday, thus setting up a repeat of last year’s final.
Andy Murray breezed past Japan’s Kei Nishikori for the loss of just seven games, prevailing 6-3 6-3 6-1. The Scot is bidding to reach the Championship match at Melbourne Park for a third straight year and has looked in imperious form for much of this tournament.
An intriguing opening set lasted almost an hour as Nishikori, playing in his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final, battled hard from the baseline and conjured up a number of breakpoint chances. However Murray, already a break-up himself, showed impressive mental toughness to swat them all away and eventually secure the set.
The pair traded breaks in the early stages of the second, but it was plain sailing for the man from Dunblane thereafter. Nishikori had been on court for four hours more than his illustrious opponent in reaching this stage and it might have told as the match’s climax approached. Murray swiftly moved into a 5-1 lead in the third before serving out to reach his fifth successive Grand Slam semi-final. It’s the ninth time the fourth seed has reached this stage in his career, but there was one minor blemish he will have to eradicate against Djokovic: his first serve percentage was 41%, and he will not want to give the reigning champion a continued look-in on his second serve on Friday.
The world number one had a far tougher encounter against Spanish world number five David Ferrer, but overcame a hamstring problem as well as his dogged opponent to reach the last four.
The Serbian came through 6-4 7-6 6-1, battling through a second-set slump and eventually displaying all of his customary variety, power and timing in a dominant final set.
Djokovic’s physical ailment first came to light early in the second set as he was broken back by the Spaniard. Nole was seen wincing on more than one occasion, and coupled with some incredibly consistent baseline strokes from Ferrer, it looked conceivable that last year’s winner may surrender just his second set of the tournament.
However Djokovic regained his composure, winning five straight points in the tie-break to claim a two-set lead. The momentum regained in the breaker enabled him to dictate a short-lived third and close out victory in just under three hours.
The events of day ten in Melbourne ensure that the top four seeds will contest the men’s semi-finals once again, the third time in the last four major tournaments this has occurred.
Petra Kvitova (2) (Czech Republic) bt Sarra Errani (Italy) 6-4 6-4
Maria Sharapova (4) (Russia) bt Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) 6-2 6-3