Forget Andy Murray, taking care of old foe Roger Federer is all Novak Djokovic is worried about.
Djokovic and Federer are setting themselves for a dream Australian Open semi-final at Melbourne Park on Thursday night after sweeping into the last four with a pair of straight-sets wins.
Djokovic wasn’t at his dominant best against Kei Nishikori but still took out Japan’s seventh seed 6-3 6-2 6-4 after Federer crushed sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-4 earlier on Tuesday to progress to an amazing 39th grand slam semi-final.
Open fans will be treated to the 45th instalment of an epic career series, with Federer and Djokovic locked at 22 wins apiece.
Djokovic came out on top in the last three grand slam finals they’ve contested – at Wimbledon in 2014 and 2015 and in the US Open decider in September.
While he’s dominated Murray in three Australian Open finals, Djokovic credits his decade-long rivalries with Federer and Rafael Nadal, whom the Serb leads 24-23 overall, for transforming him into a 10-times major winner.
“Honestly, I played so many times against both of these guys. At one stage, I lost count of how many times I played,” Djokovic said.
“I’ve played these guys so many different occasions. I’ve battled them for biggest title in sport.
“These two guys made me the player also I am today. I think these rivalries have allowed me to grow and to evolve and to get strong and tough and understand what it takes to be on the level that they are on.
“I mean, they’ve been dominating the tennis before Murray and myself came along.
“It’s always a great challenge. With Roger, you don’t need to spend words on his achievements and what he’s done for this sport.
“He’s a great champion, someone I have lots of respect for and we’re going to have a good match, I’m sure.”