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Djokovic to face Federer in the semifinals

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are set to face each other in the semifinals of the Australian Open. On the women's side, Serena Williams moved a step closer to tying Steffi Graf's record for Grand Slam titles.

World No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic beat Kei Nishikori in straight sets 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday to advance to the semifinals of the first Grand Slam event of the tennis calendar.

The Serbian will now face the Swiss 17-time Grand Slam champion in their 45th meeting on the Tour, with each player having won 22 of their previous contests.

"It's always a great challenge to play Roger," Djokovic said after his quarterfinal victory. "You don't need to spend any words on his achievements, what he's done for the sport. He's a great champion, I have a lot of respect for him and we're going to have a good match."

The victory just added to an incredible run for Djokovic, who hasn't lost at a major tournament since he was defeated by Stan Wawrinka in last year's French Open final.

Federer battles past Berdych

Federer, the world No 3, had a more difficult time of it, needing two-and-a-quarter hours to get past sixth seed Tomas Berdych 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-4.

The 34 -year-old Federer said afterwards that he was keen to add an 18th Grand Slam title to his trophy cabinet.

"It would mean a lot to me - no doubt about it," Federer said. "That's part of the reason why I guess I'm still playing. I feel like I'm competitive at the top. I can beat all the guys on tour."

The other semifinal will feature the winners of the matches between Gael Monfils and Milos Raonic, as well as David Ferrer and world No. 2 Andy Murray, both of which are to be played on Wednesday.

Williams closes in on Graf's record

Serena Williams, the women's No. 1, took less than 90 minutes to brush past her longtime rival Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-1 to advance to the top four.

Australian Open Serena Williams und Maria Sharapova in Melbourne Park

Williams overcame Sharapova despite suffering from "food poisoning issues."

Williams, who got out to a sluggish start in the first set, told reporters after the match that she had not been at 100 percent fitness due to "food poisoning issues."

The win takes the American one step closer to a 22nd Grand Slam title, which would equal the record set by Germany's Steffi Graf. She is to face fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the semifinals, after she put out Carla Suárez Navarro 6-1, 6-3.

Germany's Angelique Kerber is still in with a shot of advancing to the semis, when she faces Victoria Azarenka on Wednesday. The other quarterfinal features Johanna Konta of Britain and Shuai Zhang of China.

pfd/ (dpa, Reuters, AFP, AP)