Tennis: Nishikori thrashes Tsonga to reach Australian Open quarter-finals

Kei Nishikori of Japan hitting a return shot to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France at the Australian Open on Jan 24, 2016.
Kei Nishikori of Japan hitting a return shot to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France at the Australian Open on Jan 24, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

(AFP) - Japanese star Kei Nishikori stormed into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open with a convincing win over former finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Sunday (Jan 24).

Seventh seed Nishikori won 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 in just over two hours on Hisense Arena and will face either world No. 1 Novak Djokovic or French 14th seed Gilles Simon in the last eight.

It is Nishikori's third Australian Open quarter-final and fifth overall in Grand Slams, one less than the Japanese record of six held by Jiro Satoh, who died in 1934.

Nishikori's previous Slam encounters with the 2008 Australian finalist had both lasted five sets, but Tsonga was well beaten this time.

The lively Nishikori pounded the off-key Tsonga with five service breaks in their third Grand Slam meeting. The French ninth seed served eight double-faults and made 36 unforced errors in a flat performance.

"I felt very good today, especially against Jo, it's great to win in straight sets and I'm very happy to play a good match today to go into the quarter-finals," Nishikori said.

"I am trying to think one match at a time. I don't even know what round I'm playing and I am just trying to focus on what I have to do and try to get a good recovery for my next match."

Nishikori's service was more effective than Tsonga, winning 74 per cent of the first serve points and sweeping up 64 per cent of the points on his second serve. He hit 31 winners, 16 off his strong forehand.

It took Nishikori's record over the Frenchman to 5-2 and improved his Australian Open record to 20-6.

It also equalled Nishikori's best result at the Australian Open after reaching the last eight in 2012 and last year.

Nishikori became the first Asian man to play in a Grand Slam final when he was runner-up to Marin Cilic at the 2014 US Open, defeating Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka along the way.

Nishikori trails Djokovic 2-5 in their overall head-to-head, and he has never faced Simon.