MELBOURNE, January 23: Novak Djokovic reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open for a seventh time on Wednesday after eighth seed Kei Nishikori retired hurt when trailing 6-1, 4-1 in their quarter-final.
Top seed and six-time champion Djokovic will meet Frenchman Lucas Pouille, a maiden Grand Slam semi-finalist, on Friday for a place in Sunday’s final.
Second seed Rafael Nadal and Greek wunderkind Stefanos Tsitsipas will meet in the other semi-final on Thursday.
Djokovic, bidding for a record seventh title in Melbourne, failed to reach the last four in the past two editions of the tournament as he battled with an elbow problem.
But he has roared back to his best, and is a huge favourite to win a third successive Grand Slam title after triumphing at Wimbledon and the US Open.
“This has been my most successful Grand Slam throughout my career, the first one that I won back in 2008. As I said on the court, I have a lot of beautiful memories from Rod Laver Arena,” he told reporters.
“Yeah, the past two years have been a bit tough with the elbow injury and everything.”
Osaka blows away Svitolina to reach semis
MELBOURNE, January 23: US Open champion Naomi Osaka set up a potential rematch of her controversial Flushing Meadows final against Serena Williams after beating Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-1 to reach her first Australian Open semifinal on Wednesday.
The 21-year-old Osaka committed a string of unforced errors but still proved too strong for the sixth-seeded Ukrainian, wrapping up the win in an hour and 12 minutes to become the first Japanese woman to reach the last four at Melbourne Park since Kimiko Date in 1994.
Osaka’s first Grand Slam triumph at the US Open last year was overshadowed by a row between Williams and umpire Carlos Ramos. The American is playing Karolina Pliskova in the remaining quarter-final.
“I played them both and they are both very great players,” said Osaka after her match at Rod Laver Arena. (Agencies)
Serena stunned by Pliskova fightback
MELBOURNE, January 23: Serena Williams’s bid to equal Margaret Court’s record 24 Grand Slam titles was brought to a shuddering halt in sensational style Wednesday by Karolina Pliskova, who will face Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open semi-finals.
The American great had beaten world number one Simona Halep in the fourth round but folded against the big-serving Czech seventh seed, who saved four match points before winning 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 under the hot Melbourne sun. (Agencies)