Melbourne, Australia (SportsNetwork.com) – Four-time champion Novak Djokovic,
reigning titlist Stan Wawrinka and Japanese star Kei Nishikori highlighted
Monday’s fourth-round winners at the Australian Open.
The world No. 1 Djokovic got past Luxembourg left-hander Gilles Muller
6-4, 7-5, 7-5 in Monday’s nightcap at Laver Arena to reach his 23rd
consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal.
The seven-time Grand Slam champion and reigning Wimbledon titlist is seeking
his fourth Aussie championship in five years, having captured three straight
of his four Melbourne crowns from 2011-13.
Up next for the great Djokovic, who has yet to drop a set through four
matches here, will be eighth-seeded big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, who is
0-4 lifetime against the Serb.
Meanwhile, the fourth-seeded Swiss slugger Wawrinka pulled out a 7-6 (7-2),
6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (10-8) victory over Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
Garcia-Lopez won the first five points of the fourth-set tiebreak and had five
chances to force a fifth set at Melbourne Park, but Wawrinka saved all five
before moving on.
Garcia-Lopez stunned Wawrinka in the first round at last year’s French
Wawrinka’s quarterfinal opponent on Wednesday will be the fifth-seeded U.S.
Open runner-up Nishikori, who handled ninth-seeded former French Open finalist
David Ferrer of Spain 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 on Day 8 of the fortnight.
Looking ahead to his clash with Wawrinka, Nishikori said, “It’s going to be a
really tough match because I have seen him play on TV a couple of matches.
Even today he was playing really good. He can hit balls forehand, backhand —
great backhand actually. He can hit from anywhere at the back. It’s going to
be a tough match. But obviously I’m in the quarterfinals, so no easy matches
coming up. Hopefully I can play another good match.
“For sure it gives me confidence that I beat him in the U.S. Open. It’s not
like I can’t beat him. It’s going to be a fun match for sure.”
Nishikori made history as he became the first Asian man to contest a Grand
Slam final last year when he defeated three Top-10 players, including Wawrinka
in five sets in the quarters, to reach the U.S. Open final.
The aforementioned Raonic had to outlast 12th-seeded Spanish lefty Feliciano
Lopez, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (7-9), 6-3, to reach the round of eight.
Raonic became the first Canadian man in the Open Era to reach the Aussie
Open quarters and is also the second Canadian man in history to reach three
major quarterfinals, following in the footsteps of Robert Powell at Wimbledon
in 1908, ’10 and ’12.
“It’s great to be doing what I’m doing and that it is making a difference,”
said Raonic. “It is, I guess, part of some history, if you look really deep.
But at the end of the day, at the same time, I’m always pushing myself for
what I want to achieve. I’m always sort of looking in the mirror and saying,
‘That’s who I have to compare myself to: to myself.'”
The quarterfinals will commence Tuesday, as third-seeded former world No. 1
Rafael Nadal will take on seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych and sixth-seeded Andy
Murray will battle heavy Aussie crowd favorite Nick Kyrgios. Nadal beat
Berdych in the 2010 Wimbledon final and is 18-3 lifetime against the big
The reigning French Open king Nadal is a 14-time Grand Slam champ, including
an Aussie title in 2009. He’s also a two-time runner-up in Melbourne,
including last year when he was stunned by Wawrinka in the final.
Murray is a two-time major titlist who’s lost in three Aussie Open finals.