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Australian Open: Federer downs Nishikori in five sets to book quarter-final berth

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Former world no.1 Roger Federer dug in his heels to stop Japanese Kei Nishikori, rallying past the fifth seed 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, to enter the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Sunday. Federer, a 17-time Grand Sam winner, won in three hours and 23 minutes.

Nishikori made a bright start to the match, breaking Federer's serve twice to race ahead to a 4-0 lead. Federer rebounded to break the Japanese superstar on both occasions that he tried to serve out the opening set. Nishikori though regained his poise to take the set into a tiebreak and eventually won it 7-4 much to the disbelief of a packed house in Rod Laver Arena.

Federer bounced back strongly to win the next two sets, but Nishikori showed good stomach for the fight by breaking Federer's serve in the fifth game before stitching together a late run of service games to level the match at two sets apiece by taking the fourth set.

Struggling with a back spasm, Nishikori needed the trainer at the start of the fifth set, and predictably dropped his serve in just the second game. It was all Federer needed as he closed out the match with ease to book his place in the quarter-finals.

"I thought Kei played a great match. I thought it was a great match, a joy to be a part of it. I wasn't playing badly (in the first set), maybe I wasn't hitting my spots well on the serve. It was about staying calm, after almost going down 6-0. I thought it couldn't get any worse from there. He's not the biggest server on tour, but he's one of the best baseliners out there. It was hard not to win the first set after all the effort, but it did pay off in the end. This is a huge win for me in my career," shared Federer in his on court interview.

Federer will feature in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park for the 13th time in the last 14 years, with a date against German Mischa Zverev, who stunned World No.1 Andy Murray earlier on Sunday.

Federer has won both of his previous two encounters against Zverev and is now the overwhelming favourite to win the tournament.