Djokovic through to semi-finals

Kei Nishikori retires hurt in the second set of the quarter-final match.
Kei Nishikori
Kei Nishikori

Melbourne

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 1-6 1-4 in their quarter-final match.

Top seed and six-time champion Djokovic will meet Frenchman Lucas Pouille on Friday for a place in Sunday’s final. Second seed Rafael Nadal and Greek wunderkind Stefanos Tsitsipas will square off in the other semi-final on Thursday. Djokovic, bidding for a record seventh title at Melbourne Park, 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 last year. “This has been my most successful GS throughout my career, the first one that I won back in 2008. As I said on court, I have a lot of beautiful memories from the Rod Laver Arena,” he told reporters. “Yeah, the past two years have been a bit tough, with the elbow injury and everything,” added Djokovic.

Nishikori grinded through three five-set matches before taking on the Serb and was clearly struggling after a handful of games at the Rod Laver Arena. He had a medical time-out after losing the first set and grimaced as a trainer worked on his right thigh. He pulled out of the match after Djokovic won the fifth game in the second set. “Before the match, I was okay. Of course, I wasn’t fresh,” said the Japanese number one.

“After the third game or fourth game when I was serving, I felt pretty heavy on my right leg. After that, I couldn’t really bend my knees and jump up.” Djokovic was grateful for the short match, having complained of a sore back and a ‘couple of issues’ after battling through a taxing four-set clash against Russian Daniil Medvedev in the previous round.

Pouille edges Raonic

Lucas Pouille tamed big-serving Milos Raonic 7-6(4) 6-3 6-7(2) 6-4 in the quarter-finals to advance to his maiden Grand Slam semi-final.

The Frenchman, 24, took the first set with a brilliant forehand pass against an advancing Raonic in the tie-break. He converted his only break point opportunity in the second set with a measured backhand lob before two winners and two big serves gave him the second stanza.

The 28-year-old Raonic made Pouille pay for wasting four break points by winning the third set tie-break, but the Frenchman broke the Canadian again in the fourth, converting his third match point to seal the contest in just over three hours.

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