Djokovic, Ferrer to meet in semis
Novak Djokovic bounced back from a marathon five-setter just 48 hours earlier as he skated into the Australian Open semifinals with a untroubled win over Tomas Berdych on Tuesday.
The Serbian world No 1, chasing a hat-trick of Australian crowns, showed no ill-effects of his torrid five-hour dogfight with Stanislas Wawrinka as he beat the Czech fifth seed, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in 2hr 31min.
Djokovic now faces a semifinal on Thursday against Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer, who fought back to beat countryman Nicolas Almagro in five sets earlier Tuesday.
"I felt good enough to go another five hours, but I definitely wasn't thinking about it," Djokovic said.
"I tried to get the work done as fast and efficient as possible. I was very happy with the way I started the match.
"I was very aggressive out there, going for my shots, which wasn't the case against Wawrinka. So it's a good improvement and very encouraging for next match."
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Most interest centred on how Djokovic would recover after his epic fourth-round match with Wawrinka, but he dispelled fears by easily claiming the opening set for the loss of one game in 29 minutes.
Berdych broke the Serb in the opening game and went on to level the match by taking the second set, but it was all Djokovic in the closing two sets.
Djokovic finished with six breaks of the strong Berdych service and hit 47 winners with just 25 unforced errors, while the Czech conceded 43 errors.
Djokovic revealed that he didn't get to sleep until 5:00 am after his last marathon night match and he had accelerated his recovery by taking ice baths.
"It takes a lot of time after a match like that, it's so physically exhausting and demanding along with mentally and emotionally, so you try to do everything that night to recover," he said.
"But after a five-hour match two days ago against Stan, I was quite convinced I could recover for this one. My team did a great job."
It was Djokovic's 12th win over Berdych in 13 meetings with the Czech's only win coming on grass in the semifinals of 2010 Wimbledon.
The victory clinched Djokovic's 11th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal and he is 9-5 in matches against Ferrer.
Berdych said although Djokovic had played well he had seen him play better in their previous encounters.
"The only thing I can say is that I've played him in many matches and and I've seen him play way better," the Czech said.
"It was kind of a chance for me, but I didn't come up with my best game and that's what was deciding today."
FERRER SURVIVES ALMAGRO SCARE TO REACH SEMIS
Spanish terrier David Ferrer pulled off a miraculous escape to reach the Australian Open semifinals but then said he would need something even more spectacular if he is to get to his first grand slam final.
The fourth seed recovered from two sets down to beat fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 4-6 4-6 7-5 7-6 6-2, three times breaking the 10th seed when he served for the match.
"It was a miracle I won this match," Ferrer said in a courtside interview. "I tried to fight and do my best but I need to play better than today in the next round."
"Of course I am tired," he said. "I ran a lot against Nico. Now I will need to rest but I have a day and a half."
Ferrer had won all 12 of his previous matches with Almagro, who was bidding for his first grand slam semifinal, but was staring defeat in the face as his opponent served for the match once in the third set and twice in the fourth.
"I think maybe this time I was very close to losing," he said. "(But) I am positive. I am in the semifinal. I think the tiebreak of the fourth set I played very good.
"And in the fifth, he was cramping, problems with his leg, so it was easier for me.
"In the second set, I didn't play good but in the third, I feel better with my game. I can play more aggressive. But the important thing is the victory, and I won."
Providing the defending champion wins, Ferrer said he would have his work cut out to get revenge for his defeat at the same stage of last year's US Open.
"Nole is a special player," Ferrer said. "He has every shot. Finally in the fifth set, Djokovic was better physically than Wawrinka and I think he will be recovered, for sure, because he is physically unbelievable.
"He's the best, I think.
"He's the No 1 of the world and he's the favourite to win the Australian Open. I will see the match tonight. But anyway I will have to play better than today for to win, for sure."