Djokovic To Play Pouille In Australian Open Semi-finals
Serbian star improves to 66-8 in Melbourne
Djokovic, a six-time former champion at Melbourne Park, was leading 6-1, 4-1 when eighth seed Nishikori called time on the match after 52 minutes of play. The Serbian will now contest his 34th Grand Slam championship semi-final against French No. 28 seed Lucas Pouille. It will be a first-time meeting.
“I'm really sorry to see Kei go through pain,” said Djokovic. “He's had some tough injuries in the past couple of years. I'm sure he's not feeling great about ending a Grand Slam this way. But he's had some marathon matches this tournament that probably have taken the toll on his body... I knew that if he’s fit, he'll battle hard and he'll put in the fight, obviously wanting to win.”
Nishikori, with four hours more court time than Djokovic in his legs, immediately came under pressure in his first service game when Djokovic nailed a backhand winner down the line for break point. The Japanese star, with three five-set clashes under his belt in four rounds, then dumped a backhand into the net and soon Djokovic lead, rather ominously, 3-0. Once Djokovic broke again for a 5-1 advantage, Nishikori called for a trainer and as the 31-minute set ended, he received treatment for a right thigh complaint.
Djokovic won 16 of the first 17 points in the set and upon breaking for a 4-1 lead, Nishikori walked to the net to end the pair’s 18th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting (Djokovic now leads 16-2).
“Before the match, I was okay,” explained Nishikori. “Of course, I wasn't fresh, fresh. I thought I was going to be okay. After third game or fourth game when I was serving, I fell pretty heavy to my right leg. After that I couldn't really bend my knees and couldn't jump up. [So] I decided to stop.”
It brings to an end Nishikori’s eight-match winning streak in 2019. The 29-year-old captured his 12th ATP Tour title at the Brisbane International (d. Medvedev) in the first week of the season.
The 31-year-old Djokovic will remain at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings when the new lists are published on 28 January.