Novak Djokovic hammered an off-key Kei Nishikori and Roger Federer put on a masterclass against Tomas Berdych as they set up a dream semi-final at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
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 semi-final. “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 quarter-finals 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.