Heading into Day Two of quarterfinal action at the 2015 Australian Open, the potential for a couple of high-quality matches appeared to be quite good on the Men’s side of the draw. Unfortunately for tennis fans everywhere, the duo of Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka were not so cooperative.
While both men were considered favourites, no one was expecting things to play out in the manner they did over at Rod Laver Arena. Wawrinka, the defending champion, delivered what was by far and away his finest performance of the tournament, bouncing Kei Nishikori with relative ease 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(6) to advance to his second consecutive Aussie Open semi-final.
Djokovic, the No. 1 seed, had absolutely no trouble whatsoever in disposing of Milos Raonic 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-2 to setup what will be the third consecutive year in which the duo will face each other during the year’s first major.
As much as neutrals were hoping for an encore performance of their quarterfinal showdown from last year’s US Open, one which the No. 5 seed won in five thrilling sets, it was a completely different ball game this time around. From start to finish, it was the “Stan The Man Show” and there was little Nishikori could do about it.
No matter what was thrown his way, Wawrinka had all the answers and made a point of keeping his opponent on the move with one devastating backhand after another. Nishikori didn't play poorly, but he was simply unable to raise his level of play to match the guy standing on the other side of the net.
It was much of the same during quarterfinal number two, as Djokovic kept his perfect record intact against the hard serving Canadian. While Raonic had shown signings of improvement in his overall game during the opening few weeks of 2015, both in Brisbane and during his first four matches in Melbourne, he reverted back to his old ways when the pressure was on.
The patience he had shown during his most recent matches was nowhere to be found and after dropping the opening set tiebreaker, in which he committed a pair of crucial unforced forehand errors at 2-4 and 5-6, it was a walk in the park for the seven-time Grand Slam winner. At no point did you get the sense Djokovic was even the least bit worried about what his opponent could or could not do.
It really was one-way traffic for much of the match, and the fact the top seed committed all of seventeen unforced errors over the course of three sets made it next to impossible for Raonic to grab even the slightest bit of momentum. While the No. 8 seed did manage to bang out fifteen aces, it was Djokovic who had the far easier time, losing just twelve points on serve in the entire match.