Nishikori back to best in win over Dimitrov

Friday, 4 January 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


BRISBANE, AFP: Kei Nishikori showed he was back to his best form as he downed Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 7-5 to reach the semi-finals of the Brisbane International on Thursday. 

Japan's Kei Nishikori celebrates after the match against Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov in Beisbane

Nishikori proved too consistent for the Bulgarian in a high-quality match, securing crucial breaks at 5-5 in both sets. 

Afterwards, the 29-year-old said his goal was to get back into the top five after seeing his ranking plummet to 39 in April last year due to persistent injuries. 

“I’m trying to go top five, that’s my next goal,” Nishikori said. “The last couple of months of last year I was playing great tennis and I think I’m doing that now, this week.” 

The match was a replay of the 2017 final, won by Dimitrov in three sets. 

But Nishikori turned the tables this year by returning the Bulgarian’s serve superbly throughout, putting Dimitrov under pressure at key moments and showing fight to come back from 1-4 down in the second set. 

“I was expecting to go to a third set -- he started playing better and I was down 4-1,” Nishikori said. “But I think the last couple of games I played very solid and I’m very happy.” 

He will now play Frenchman Jeremy Chardy for a place in Sunday’s final and will go into the match as a firm favourite following Chardy’s three-set struggle over qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama. 

Uchiyama, 26, had only won one match on the main ATP Tour before this week and pulled off a massive upset when he beat third seed Kyle Edmund in the second round.