Millennium Post

Kei Nishikori bests Tsonga to book quarter-finals spot

Japanese star Kei Nishikori produced his best tennis of the tournament to breeze past former finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Sunday.

Seventh seed Nishikori won 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 in just over two hours on Hisense Arena and will face top seeNovak Djokovic in the last eight. “Today was one of the best matches I’ve had this week. Played good tennis, through in three sets,” Nishikori beamed.

“I’m surprised that I broke him early every set. I was returning well today, so that made it tough for him to have a good serve all the time.

It is Nishikori’s third Australian Open quarter-final and fifth overall in Grand Slams, one less than the Japanese record of six held by Jiro Satoh, who died in 1934.

Tsonga had a running battle with the chair umpire Fergus Murphy over the timing of a challenge and at one stage yelled out: “Hey, I’m talking to you. Just respect me!” He explained later: “I will say I was not really happy because I just want to challenge and didn’t want it, because he said it’s too late. Nothing to say about it. It’s like this. Anyway, we have to play.”

Nishikori’s service was more effective than Tsonga, winning 74 percent of the first serve points and sweeping up 64 percent of the points on his second serve. He hit 31 winners, 16 off his strong forehand. It took Nishikori’s record over the Frenchman to 5-2 and improved his Australian Open record to 20-6. Nishikori became the first Asian man to play in a Grand Slam final when he was runner-up to Marin Cilic at the 2014 US Open, defeating Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka along the way. Nishikori trails Djokovic 2-5 in their overall head-to-head.

Djokovic dished up 100 unforced errors in a five-set struggle with Gilles Simon on Sunday as Roger Federer roared into the Australian Open quarter-finals with ruthless efficiency After the top seed’s “match to forget”, Federer looked in a hurry to brush off David Goffin when they came on court just before 11:00 pm - and he duly thrashed the Belgian 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 in 88 minutes. There was a big contrast between defending champion Djokovic, who is going for a record-equalling sixth Australian Open title, and the 34-year-old Federer, who hasn’t won in Melbourne since 2010.

While Simon patiently pushed and prodded Djokovic during his 6-3, 6-7 (1/7), 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win, Goffin couldn’t lay a glove on Federer as the clockwork Swiss purred through. But both are safely into the quarter-finals, with Djokovic facing Kei Nishikori in his 27th consecutive Grand Slam last-eight clash and Federer up against Tomas Berdych.

 “I was obviously pleased to win the match, but in terms of the performance itself, I haven’t done well at all. It’s a match to forget for me,” Djokovic said. Tuesday’s clash will be Djokovic and Nishikori’s first Grand Slam meeting since the 2014 US Open semis, when the Japanese player won in four sets to become the first Asian man to reach a major singles final. 

Berdych also had to come through a marathon three hour, eighteen minute long five-setter as he outlasted Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 to reach the last eight for the sixth year in a row. 
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