In doing so, the Japanese can look forward to a sixth successive appearance in the second week of a Grand Slam. His first, meanwhile, without dropping a set since the French Open in 2015.
It was a performance rich in quality from the world number seven, seizing upon the American’s serve at every opportunity, and he will now meet either Jan-Lennard Struff, whom he snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against at the Italian Open earlier this year, or Mikhail Kukushkin for a place in yet another major quarter-final.
The Japanese has made the last eight at the previous four Grand Slams, falling to each of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, and he could have the opportunity to take a swipe at the eight-time champion Roger Federer if their paths converge. A performance like the one witnessed by those nestled inside No.3 Court on Saturday will only heighten the anticipation.
A man on a mission
In truth, Nishikori didn’t have it all his own way to begin proceedings, donating serve all too generously early in the opening set in a start reminiscent of first set with Cameron Norrie on Centre Court on Thursday.
Johnson consolidated the break of serve, but it would prove a red herring for the 29-year-old. Nishikori immediately restored parity, directing a couple of the American’s serves back for winners, and when Johnson could finally regroup at the changeover after seven games, the Japanese had reeled off four straight games.
He would save set point on his own deal, but Nishikori closed out the set in style. When after three games in the second set the Japanese had created a break point in all but one of Johnson’s service games, the tide of the match was certainly only heading in one direction.
The errors were now leaking from Johnson’s oft-reliable forehand wing, unable to redirect the exchanges considering the depth which Nishikori was consistently finding. The Japanese had broke early in set two and he could sense the double break when Johnson ambled up to the line serving to stay in the set at 5-3; two set points arrived and the first was gobbled up with a sumptuous return winner cross-court.
The American was stretched to a deciding set by Alex De Minaur in the previous round, his reserves having been emptied, and he was staring down the barrel early in set three. A seemingly routine volley was dumped into the net on break point for Nishikori and there would no relenting from the Japanese from there on out, dispatching the first of two match points six games later.