Australian Open: Roger Federer survives Kei Nishikori test

On Rod Laver Arena, Roger Federer defeated Kei Nishikori 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals where he will play Mischa Zverev who toppled world number one Andy Murray earlier in the day. 

Kei Nishikori taken to tiebreak; wins opening set

Serving first, Roger Federer immediately faced a break point at 15-40. He managed to save both of them but the Japanese hit a backhand crosscourt winner to bring up a third break point. An ace by Federer brought the game to deuce before more break points arrived for Nishikori.

The Swiss would go on to save a fourth break point but Nishikori took his chances on his fifth break point before going on to hold serve for 0-2. Struggling to cope with the energetic start by Nishikori, Federer hit an unforced error which presented the Japanese with double break points.

Kei Nishikori reacts to winning a point (Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Kei Nishikori reacts to winning a point (Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Both were saved with the game going to deuce, however, Nishikori came back and broke then went on to consolidate for 0-4. Serving for the set at 3-5, Federer began to seize his opportunity and a backhand return winner brought up a break point, which he would take the very next point.

The 35-year-old consolidated and the set was well and truly in the balance. More break points arrived for Federer and despite having one saved, he came back and broke via an unforced error. The Swiss held to love and went ahead for the first time at 6-5. Nishikori served it out as the set went to a tiebreaker. The number five seed took his chances at 3-4, hitting the backhand winner and blowing the tiebreaker wide open. He earned a set point then closed it out for a set lead. 

Federer draws level

Both players got into a rhythm on serve, with six consecutive holds as the set reached its midway point at 3-3. The sixth game was to be the one for Federer as a two break points went his way. The first was saved after a forehand shot produced the error. A forehand winner in the next point brought the game to deuce as the Japanese did his bet to keep this game on serve. 

However, he cracked under pressure and served a double-fault to bring a break point to Federer. This time, the 17-time Grand Slam champion took his chances, forcing the error to then go 4-3 ahead. A hold to love for the Swiss made it 5-3 as the match was beginning to turn his way. The 26-year-old served it out and gave the responsibility to his opponent. Which he took brilliantly, running away to a love-40 lead. Nishikori's forehand went missing and Federer drew back level to the delight of the Melbourne crowd. 

The Swiss edges infront

With every seemingly going the way of Federer, he used that to bring him three break points in the third game. Still fighting, Nishikori saved two of them but hit a forehand error to concede the game. The Japanese then brought up a break point of his own, which was quickly quashed as Federer held with an overhead smash for a 3-1 lead.

Roger Federer plays a backhand shot (Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Roger Federer plays a backhand shot (Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

The Swiss continued to pull away from the Japanese in this set and further break points arrived. A volley long handed the double break to Federer before going on to hold serve to love for 5-1. The world number 17 won the third set to go two sets to one on the Japanese. 

Nishikori forces a fifth

The fourth set started with three holds of serve. With Federer taking the game to deuce, he then hit attacked Nishikori and fired a backhand return winner to bring up a break point but was saved as his opponent thumped a forehand winner. Another break point was saved as Nishikori got out of a tricky service game to hold for 2-2. Piling the pressure on, Nishikori broke inviting Federer towards the net and hitting him with a stinging forehand passing shot.

This was followed by a hold of serve for 2-4. Seemingly carrying an injury, the Japanese continued to cause problems to his Swiss opponent in the game and stayed the break ahead as he was faced wth serving for the set. Nishikori served out to love, the match back to level terms as Federer’s suddenly misbehaving backhand put a return just wide of the line.

Federer advances

Nishikori took a time out between sets, with the trainer working hard on his legs but it was Federer who seemed to be in need of a massage to relax as he was being thrown around the court. But he held firmly and in the second game grabbed his opportunity when netted to offer double break points.

Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori shae hands (Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori shae hands (Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Nishikori saved the first and then fired a huge serve to which Federer returned with a backhand lunge, and the Japanese ignored the offer to play the ball back into the court as he netted. Federer began to ride the momentum and finished strongly, racing away to a love-40 lead and settling the match after more three and a half hours. Federer was greeted by a huge standing ovation from the Rod Laver Arena.