Novak Djokovic vs Kei Nishikori Wimbledon QF tennis Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Djokovic seeks 13th straight win over Nishikori, and first Grand Slam semi-final since US Open 2016

Leye Aduloju in Wimbledon 10 Jul 2018
  • Novak Djokovic vs Kei Nishikori is live from Wimbledon on Wednesday, 11 July from 1:00pm local time/ BST
  • Djokovic leads 13-2 on head-to-head, and has won the last 12 meetings
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Wimbledon at bet365 > live streaming > tennis (geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)

A year on from his painful quarter final exit at the All England Club, Novak Djokovic returns to the last eight at Wimbledon on Wednesday as he takes on Kei Nishikori in a mouth-watering contest. 

A lot has happened in last 12 months in the life of Novak Djokovic. First, there was the elbow injury that forced his retirement from his last year’s Wimbledon quarter final against Tomas Berdych, and then there was the lengthy spell on the sidelines- he did not play again in 2017 after Wimbledon. 

There were the struggles on his return to the tour, outgunned by Korea's Hyeon Chung in the fourth round of his comeback tournament at the Australian Open, and undergoing a 'minor intervention' or surgery if you like, to correct that long-standing elbow problem. 

Djokovic made a swift return to the tour, perhaps a bit too swift, in hindsight. He suffered opening round defeats at Indian Wells and Miami, and while there were encouraging signs on clay, he still lost early in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid. The first bit of light outside a long dark tunnel appeared in Rome, where he not only made his first quarter final of the season, but also outlasted Nishikori in an epic quarter-final to progress into the semi-finals, where he was competitive for a set against Nadal but was ultimately overpowered the King of Clay. 

Djokovic continued his resurgence at Roland Garros, where he defeated the dangerous due of Roberto Bautista-Agut and Fernando Verdasco before suffering a tough loss to Marco Cecchinato in the quarter finals, missing out on a golden opportunity to reach a first Grand Slam semi-final since the 2016 US Open. It was so tough to take that the Serbian briefly contemplated skipping the entire grass-court season, but once the dust settled on his Roland Garros exit and heads were cleared, he headed to Queen's, where he carried on from where he had left off on the clay. Djokovic beat John Millman, Grigor Dimitrov, Adrian Mannarino, and Jeremy Chardy to reach his first final of the season, but he was denied the trophy by Marin Cilic, despite holding match point. 

Djokovic had reunited with former coach, Marian Vajda for the start of the clay-court court season, and the fruits of that reunion had begun to yield as the clay season wound down. It continued into grass, first at Queen's, and now at Wimbledon. 

“I felt like in the last month and a half, the level of tennis has been very close to where I would like it to be, where I'm used to having it,” Djokovic said.

Tennys Sandgren and Horacio Zebbalos were not expected to trouble Djokovic in the opening rounds at Wimbledon, and they didn't, but the Serbian faced his first real test of the tournament against Kyle Edmund in the third round. Egged on by the Centre Court crowd, a confident Edmund took the opening set- the first set Djokovic had dropped at the tournament, but that was as much joy as Edmund would get in the remainder of the match, as Djokovic came roaring back to win in four. Djokovic got even better in the fourth round against Karen Khachanov, diffusing the big-hitting threat of the Russian in a surgical execution of deep accurate groundstrokes. 

Djokovic got broken in the opening game of the match, but he broke back immediately, and while there was another exchange of breaks later in the set, Djokovic got that first set in the bag, after which it was one-way traffic. He did not face a break point throughout the second and third sets and eased to 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory in just an hour and 49 minute. 

"I'm really happy with the way I played tonight. I managed to win in straight sets against a player in form. I was really pleased with my second and third set. Really, really pleased," Djokovic said. "I made him play a lot. I served accurately, picking my spots, not really forcing the serve too much, trying to get easier first shots in the rally. Just overall, I felt good in these difficult conditions."

He has obviously been in great form recently, but so has Kei Nishikori, who has been terrific in advancing to the quarter finals at Wimbledon for the first time in his career. 

Wimbledon hasn't been the luckiest ground for Nishikori- with retirements and walkovers featuring prominently in his recent history at the All England Club- he gave a walkover to Santiago Giraldo in the second round in 2015, and retired from his fourth-round match against Marin Cilic in 2016.

He managed to complete all his matches last year, crashing to Roberto Bautista-Agut in the third round, but more injury woes would soon follow. Nishikori played just two more tournaments after Wimbledon- Washington and Toronto- before calling time early on his year because of a wrist injury, joining a host of top players in pulling the plug early on their seasons. 

Nishikori eased his way back into the sport via the Challenger Tour in January 2018, winning the Dallas title, his second tournament since his return to the sport. It wasn't until the clay-court court season that he really started finding his best form. His stand-out results were a runner-up finish in Monte Carlo (lost to Nadal), quarter final in Rome (lost to Djokovic) and a Round of 16 run at Roland Garros (lost to Dominic Thiem).

A tame second round exit to Khachanov in his traditional pre-Wimbledon warm-up event in Halle suggested another meek campaign at Wimbledon, but it has been nothing of such as Nishikori has played arguably his best and most consistent tennis on grass to get into the last eight for the first time. 

He opened with a four-set win over Christian Harrison, before outlasting the dangerous Bernard Tomic in four sets. However, his performance of the tournament came in the third round, where he dismantled Nick Kyrgios in a truly magnificent performance. He diffused Kyrgios' big serves with some outrageous returning; and dominated the Australian off the ground in 6-1 7-6 6-4 victory. 

Nishikori was pushed hard again in the fourth round by an inspired Ernests Gulbis, but Gulbis' challenge was effectively over after suffering a nasty fall in a crucial third set tie break. The Latvian received lengthy treatment on his knee after the fall, but soldiered on bravely afterwards, but after he lost the 22-point tie break to trail two-sets-to-one, there was no way back. He unsurprising fell away in the fourth set as Nishikori pulled off a 4-6 7-6 7-6 6-1 victory after three and a half hours. 

The Japanese advances into his first quarter final at the All England Club, where he will play three-time champion, Djokovic in a cracking encounter. If it's anywhere near as good as their most recent match in Rome, we will be in for another treat. 

Unfortunately for Nishikori, as hard as he pushed in that Rome meeting, it ended in the familiar tale of defeat to Novak Djokovic. The Japanese won two of their first three matches but he has had no joy since then, losing twelve in a row against the Serbian. 

"I like my chances in the match against Nishikori. I played very well at Queen's coming into Wimbledon. So far, four matches have been really, really good for me. I haven't spent too much time on the court. I feel physically, mentally ready, fit, positive," Djokovic said.

His problems stem from an attackable serve, which allows the great returner, Djokovic seize control of points on return games. If Nishikori can sort out that aspect of his game, perhaps get in more first serves, he has got the groundstrokes to put Djokovic under serious pressure, and this being grass, he will get even more purchase for his crisp strokes off both wings, and his ability to effortlessly change direction. 

Having said that, Djokovic has handled almost everything Nishikori has thrown at him in the past, with his defence providing the antidote to Nishikori's brilliance off the ground, and his stinging offence often too much for the Japanese. 

Djokovic is playing very close to his best; and he should once again come through a very entertaining contest. 

Novak Djokovic vs Kei Nishikori is live from Wimbledon on Wednesday, 11 July from 1:00pm local time/ BST
Watch and bet on the match live from Wimbledon at bet365 > live streaming > Novak Djokovic vs Kei Nishikori  (geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)

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Novak Djokovic vs Kei Nishikori Wimbledon QF tennis Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Djokovic seeks 13th straight win over Nishikori, and first Grand Slam semi-final since US Open 2016

Novak Djokovic takes on Kei Nishikori in the Wimbledon semi-finals on Wednesday. Will Djokovic continue his dominance over Nishikori? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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