Not many tennis players can get away with making 100 unforced errors in one match. Unless you are Novak Djokovic. The World No.1 has reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open after overcoming Kei Nishikori in the quarters, but some might believe Djokovic is lucky to be there after hitting 100 unforced errors in his last-16 tie against Frenchman Gilles Simon. The Serbian scraped through the tie after four hours and 32 minutes, in what was an incredibly tense match on Rod Laver arena.
Unbelievably the number of unforced errors made was not a grand slam record. That honor remains with Yevgeny Kafelnikov who hit an astonishing 112 unforced errors in a victory against Fernando Vincente at the 2000 French Open.
Djokovic, a five-time Australian Open champion, was able to equal Jimmy Connors’ record of 33 consecutive quarter finals before beating Japans Nishikori to make the semi-finals.
The Serb was able to crank up through the gears and produce his best tennis against Nishikori, perhaps taking advice from a heckling critic who accused Djokovic of attempting too many drop-shots against Simon.
After winning in an unconvincing style against Simon, there was serious doubt about whether or not he would be able to go the distance and win the title. With the heat in Australia and the grueling match against Simon, some might have doubted his fitness. However, he is still Bookmakers favorite to claim the championship for a record sixth time.
Nishikori was unable to produce his best form in the quarter-final. The Japanese star had a great tournament to date, hitting the ball calmly and efficiently, but he could not keep up with Djokovic once the Serbian got into his groove.
The World No.7 was unfortunate to hand Djokovic an enormous advantage in the first set, double-faulting on a break point which eventually lost him the first set 6-3. After that it was relatively plain sailing for the Serbian. He valiantly defended two break-points as the game built up more momentum, the sense being Nishikori had lost his chance. After finding his rhythm Djokovic came out winner of the second set 6-2.
The chances of Nishikori becoming the first Japanese player to reach the Australian Open semi-final since Jiro Satoh in 1932 were not looking good! Credit to the player though who fought back valiantly. Having come back from two sets down twice before in his career, some might have thought there was an upset on the cards when he went 2-0 up in the third set.
The two players were both really struggling as neither player could hold serve. Djokovic broke back instantly but allowed Nishikori straight back into the game, being broken once more before a reversal saw him unable to hold his own serve.
Eventually the breaking of serves came to an end and Djokovic was able to hold his own leveling the match 3-3 before breaking Nishikori for a third game in a row. He was unable to give the match a quicker exit, failing to break four, but managed to hold out comfortably, eventually coming through the set 6-4.
A relatively calm game was exactly what last year’s runner up needed after an exhausting and disastrous display in the last-16 tie.
It will be a completely different story against 17-time grand slam winner Rodger Federer in the semi-finals. The combative pair are currently level on wins, each with 22 in some enthralling matches.
Even though Federer is 34, he is still hitting the ball with the same prowess and skill as he did 10 years ago. This will be an interesting one!