Top seed Novak Djokovic is relishing the renewal of his intense Australian Open rivalry with defending champion Stan Wawrinka after both men enjoyed comfortable quarter-final wins in Melbourne today.
Wawrinka continued his impressive title defence with a straight-sets win over Japan's Kei Nishikori, before Djokovic outclassed the big-serving Milos Raonic on Rod Laver Arena.
Djokovic beat Wawrinka 12-10 in the fifth set in a fourth-round clash before claiming his third straight title in 2013, but Wawrinka ended the world number one's 25-match unbeaten run in Melbourne in the quarter-finals last year, winning 9-7 in the fifth.
"The crowd are definitely expecting a marathon like the last couple of years and I am sure both of us will give our best to perform the best possible tennis," Djokovic said after beating eighth seed Raonic 7-6 (7/5) 6-4 6-2.
"We always ask from each other the most of our own abilities on the court so I am looking forward to it. I'm ready for the battle. When we played the last three grand slam matches they were the final stages of a grand slam, semi-finals, quarter-finals.
"Grand slams are the tournaments where you want to perform your best. I'm sure we both are very much aware of that fact, and it's why we get to play on a high level against each other and we push each other to the limit in a way.
"It's a very physical battle as well. But I haven't had too many long matches during this tournament. I'm ready for it. I'm going to practice tomorrow, do a little preparation for that match, try to analyse his game and what I need to do in order to win."
Djokovic has not dropped a set on the way to the semi-finals for the first time since 2008, the year he won his first title, and has only lost his serve once.
"It was a great performance, definitely no complaints," he added after beating Raonic in exactly two hours. "I returned very well, tried to get as many balls back in play. Some games I had to just let it go and wait for the opportunities and when they are presented obviously try to use them and that's what I've done.
"There are not many tournaments where I have just dropped serve once so I should enjoy it. It feels like Boris Becker on the court. Now I know how he feels."
That was a reference to Djokovic's coach, who nevertheless came in for some light-hearted criticism for leaving the court to answer a call of nature in the first game of the third set.
"Like everyone he has a need to go to the toilet which I understand... but in the moment I had a break point and I thought he was guilty for me not using that break point," Djokovic joked.
A subdued Raonic added: "He just didn't allow me to organise my game. Even when he was returning well, by the end of the match he was doing a good job of playing deep and never allowing me to go forward.
"Obviously if you watch the footage, he was pretty much on the baseline the whole time and I was further back."
Earlier in the day, Wawrinka defeated fifth seed Nishikori 6-3 6-4 7-6 (8/6) in two hours and four minutes and has dropped just one set in making the last four.
Nishikori had won their previous encounter, also in the quarter-finals of a grand slam, in five sets on his way to the final of the US Open at Flushing Meadows last year.
But fourth seed Wawrinka dominated Wednesday's match from the outset and his only nervous moments came when Nishikori saved five match points from 6-1 down in the tie-break.
Wawrinka eventually took his sixth match point with his 20th ace and believes he is a better player with more belief than when he won here 12 months ago.
"I'm more aggressive. I have more confidence with my game when I come to the net," Wawrinka said. "I know that now I have a grand slam at home. I won the Davis Cup also (with Switzerland).
"I have the confidence from that. I know I can make it. I trust my game. I trust myself on the court even when we start to play semi-final or final in a grand slam.
Nishikori admitted he paid for a slow start and could regret an audacious attempted drop shot which gave Wawrinka his sixth match point.
"I was struggling on my serve and that's why I couldn't get a good rhythm in the first and second set," he said. "The tie-breaker was really close. If I could get that one, it might change the whole thing. But, you know, he was serving really well until end of the set.
"So I think I have to give him credit. He obviously played really aggressive and played great tennis."