Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

Djokovic through to semi-finals as Nishikori retires

Kei Nishikori on the chase at Aussie Open Kei Nishikori has spent more time on court than any other player at the Australian Open Credit Getty Images
Shannon Reynolds | 25 January, 2019, 22:29

The Japanese star was hailed by some for his incredible fight as he backed up from three five-set matches earlier in the tournament to take on world number one Novak Djokovic, before succumbing to an apparent leg injury after falling behind 6-1 4-1. No disrespect to Pablo Carreno Busta was intended and indeed Djokovic has no reason to fear facing the Japanese, a player he holds a magnificent head-to-head record (15-2) against.

"As they say this is exactly what the doctor ordered", he said in his on-court interview.

"I love to battle, especially against Kei", Djokovic was quoted as saying after the match. "Of course, I wasn't fresh but I thought I was going to be okay".

"I'm really sorry to see him go through pain".

"After third game or fourth game when I was serving, I felt pretty heavy to my right leg", Nishikori told reporters. "After that I couldn't really bend my knees and couldn't jump up, so I chose to stop".

"I've had plenty of matches so far this year and I am in another semi-final and I will do everything to get ready for that one".

Chang retired from just one match in his entire career, and it came in 2001 at age 29 - years after his peak.

"I hope it's not something very serious". Could be from that and also, yeah, something happen today during the match.

Serena Williams cries out
Serena Williams squandered four match points against Karolina Pliskova Credit Reuters

"So I'm disappointed. It's tough to lose like this, but I try to keep my head up". He always saved it really well with a good serve, good points.

"I don't mind Novak getting in a little bit grump, I think it sharpens him up towards the end of the tournament".

"It's too bad, but it just shows you in an individual sport, if you have to waste that much energy..."

Djokovic next faces 28th seed Lucas Pouille in the semifinals.

Nadal comes up against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the other semi-final, with the expectation that the top two players in the rankings will compete for the title at Melbourne Park on Sunday.

The enigmatic 24-year-old had never won a match at the year's first Grand Slam prior to this year but eased past Milos Raonic in four sets.

It is 11 years since Djokovic made his first final in Melbourne and he will be hoping to avoid a similar landscape-shifting result on Friday against Pouille that he produced in the semifinals against Roger Federer in 2008.

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