MELBOURNE (AFP) – Raging favourite Novak Djokovic will play defending champion Stan Wawrinka in a blockbuster semi-final at the Australian Open after dominant wins on Wednesday.
The Serb world number one bossed Canada’s eighth seed Milos Raonic in straight sets to storm into his fifth Australian semi.
Swiss fourth seed Wawrinka frittered five match points but still was an easy winner over Japanese superstar Kei Nishikori, taking it 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (8/6) in just over two hours.
Djokovic was in irrepressible form in dominating power-serving Raonic 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-2 in a similar time in the night match on Rod Laver Arena.
The winner will face either Britain’s Andy Murray or Czech Tomas Berdych in Sunday’s final.
Wawrinka upset Djokovic in last year’s quarter-finals on the way to winning the Australian Open for his first major title, but the world number one looks in formidable form going forward.
He was ruthless against Raonic, hitting 33 winners and just 17 unforced errors, with three service breaks and winning 89 percent of his first serves.
It will be his 25th Grand Slam semi-final on Friday.
Raonic, one of the biggest servers in men’s tennis, could not get one break point on Djokovic’s serve, with the Serb now dropping only one service game in the tournament.
“Tonight there was not much I could complain about,” Djokovic said.
“From the first game till the last I played the way I wanted. I created a lot of break point opportunities.
“The key of tonight’s match was to get as many balls back in play. I executed very, very well. It’s easier said than done, but I feel very good about my game in this moment.
“I served very well and overall it was a great match against one of the up and coming rising stars.”
Despite the jitters when serving for the match in the tiebreaker Wawrinka was in commanding form against Nishikori.
The Japanese star had mastered the Swiss over five sets in the quarter-finals at last year’s
US Open, but it was a far different outcome this time.
Wawrinka dominated with his serve and backhand to reach his third Grand Slam semi-final and a chance of playing in back-to-back finals at the Australian Open.
He broke Nishikori’s service three times and lost serve only once, while winning 86 percent of his first-serve points.