Novak Djokovic overjoyed to be back in Australian Open semis after Kei Nishikori retires hurt

The Serb is back in the last-four in Melbourne. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2019
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Novak Djokovic overjoyed to be back in Australian Open semis after Kei Nishikori retires hurt

  • World No. 1 in search of a record seventh Aussie Open title.
  • Serb to face 28th seed Lucas Pouille on Friday in semifinal.

MELBOURNE: Novak Djokovic was delighted to get back into the semifinals at the Australian Open after missing out for two years as Kei Nishikori retired injured during their last-eight match.
The world No. 1 eased into a showdown with French 28th seed Lucas Pouille as Nishikori retired after just 51 minutes when behind 6-1, 4-1.
“It feels great. This has been my most successful Grand Slam throughout my career, the first one that I won back in 2008,” said Djokovic, who is chasing a record seventh Melbourne Park title. “I have a lot of beautiful memories.
“Yeah, past two years have been a bit tough with the elbow injury and everything. Over the past 10 years, I’ve had plenty of success here.
“Australia has been really kind to me throughout my career.”
Eighth seed Nishikori had endured three five-set epics during 13hr 47min on court before the quarter-final clash and suffered a thigh strain in the first set as his previous exertions took their toll.
After a medical timeout and three minutes of treatment from the physiotherapist, Nishikori emerged for the second set with his right thigh strapped and taped, and courageously attempted to carry on.
He seemed to be moving a little more freely, but the recovery did not last long.
After being broken to go 2-1 down by the Serbian 14-time Grand Slam champion Nishikori became almost immobilized.
When Djokovic broke again to go 4-1 ahead it proved the last straw for Nishikori’s brave challenge.
“After third game or fourth game when I was serving, I felt pretty heavy to my right leg,” Nishikori told reporters.
“After that I couldn’t really bend my knees and couldn’t jump up. Yeah, I decided to stop.”
Djokovic wished his old foe Nishikori a speedy recovery after beating him for the 16th time in 18 meetings.
“I’m really sorry to see him go through pain. He’s had some tough injuries in the last couple of years. I’m sure he’s not feeling great about ending the Grand Slam this way,” said the Serb.
“But he’s had some marathon matches this tournament that probably have taken the toll on his body.”
Djokovic was exhausted after his late-night four-set win over Daniil Medvedev on Monday and made no secret of his delight to escape the quarter-final with such a light workout.
“As they say, this is exactly what the doctor ordered for me after the match two nights ago,” Djokovic said. “Not to spend too much time on the court.
“I’ve had plenty of matches so far this year and I am in another semifinal and I will do everything to get ready for that one.”
Top seed Djokovic will now meet 28th seed Lucas Pouille on Friday after the Frenchman reached his first Grand Slam semifinal by ousting Milos Raonic in four sets.


Siakam has 30 points, Raptors top Magic 98-93 for 2-1 lead

Updated 20 April 2019
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Siakam has 30 points, Raptors top Magic 98-93 for 2-1 lead

  • Siakam was 13 for 20 from the floor
  • Raptors held Orlando to 36% shooting

ORLANDO, Florida: Pascal Siakam had 30 points and 11 rebounds, Kawhi Leonard added 16 points and the Toronto Raptors held off the Orlando Magic 98-93 on Friday night to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference first-round series.
Siakam was 13 for 20 from the floor and the Raptors held Orlando to 36% shooting. Leonard had 10 rebounds, Danny Green had 13 points and Kyle Lowry finished with 12 points and 10 assist.
Terrence Ross led Orlando with 24 points, and Nikola Vucevic shook off a slow start to finish with 22 points and 14 rebounds.
Game 4 is Sunday night in Orlando.
The Raptors trailed 61-60 midway through the third, then went on a 16-0 run over the next four minutes to take the lead for good. Siakam and Green were both 3 for 3 during the run, the Magic missed 10 consecutive shots over a span of 6 1/2 minutes and had to play uphill the rest of the way.
That being said, they went down swinging.
Lowry’s 3-pointer with 7:48 left gave Toronto its biggest lead at 86-69. The Magic came flying back, and Ross’ 3-pointer with 41 seconds left got Orlando to 96-93.
Leonard was short with a jumper on the next possession — but the Magic couldn’t control the rebound, and were doomed shortly afterward. Leonard made a pair of free throws with 12.9 seconds remaining to make it a two-possession game again, and that closed the scoring.
Orlando, which finished the regular season by winning 13 of its final 14 home games, was 13 of 44 from 3-point range.
Toronto scored the first 10 points — the last five by Siakam, who was a problem from the outset for the Magic — and led by as many as 11 in the first half.
Orlando got within one on three occasions in the first half, but never got the lead in the opening 24 minutes. Toronto took a 48-45 lead into the break after Ross beat the clock from midcourt at the buzzer.
He took off from the Magic logo and released the ball with about a half-second remaining, it hitting the square on the backboard perfectly and dropping through. Ross never broke stride, watching the ball’s flight as he ran and kept going through the tunnel leading to the Magic locker room.
TIP-INS
Raptors: Toronto had lost four consecutive Game 3s. ... Patrick McCaw (sprained right thumb) was active, but did not play. ... The Raptors are 6-1 in their last seven road games this season. ... Siakam has 73 points and 30 rebounds in the series.
Magic: Among the former Orlando players in the building were Tracy McGrady, Jameer Nelson and Horace Grant. ... Orlando missed three shots at the rim in one third-quarter possession. Vucevic missed at the rim, and Gordon couldn’t convert on two putback tries. ... Attendance was 19,367, the second-most in the Amway Center’s nine-season history.
GOVERNOR SPEAKS
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state’s first lady Casey DeSantis were in attendance and received Magic “46” jerseys — a nod to his being the 46th governor of the Sunshine State. The governor and Magic CEO Alex Martins spoke pregame about the hope for Orlando to get another All-Star Game soon, though all through 2022 has already been awarded to other Eastern Conference cities — and Milwaukee, another East city, has expressed interest in 2023.
UP NEXT
Game 4 is Sunday night in Orlando.