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By Chris Oddo | Friday January 6, 2016

 
Dimitrov

Grigor Dimitrov knocked off Milos Raonic in straight sets to set up a final with Kei Nishikori in Brisbane.

Photo Source: Bradley Kanaris/Getty

Grigor Dimitrov knocked off top-seeded Milos Raonic, 7-6(7), 6-2 to set up a final with Kei Nishikori at the Brisbane International.

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Earlier in the day Nishikori evened his lifetime head-to-head with Stan Wawrinka by defeating the Swiss, 7-6(3), 6-3.

Nishikori leads Dimitrov 3-0 in their lifetime head-to-head. Their last battle went three sets at last year’s Rogers Cup quarterfinals.

Dimitrov saved a set point in the first set tiebreaker before converting his second set point to take the early lead. The Bulgarian committed only seven unforced errors in the match and he did not face a break point. In the second set Dimitrov only dropped four points on serve while winning 10 of 14 points against the Raonic second serve.

Nishikori saved three break points in the first set before snatching the tiebreaker against Wawrinka. In the second set he broke Wawrinka twice on two opportunities to win going away.

Nishikori will bid for his 12th title on Sunday; Dimitrov will bid for his fifth.

Our Take: This is very exciting news for both players. Both Nishikori and Dimitrov have been on the cusp of major breakthroughs over the last two to three years, but neither has been able to win a major or really hold sway over the Top 5. Could this be the year that both make strides in that direction?

Dimitrov has had so many close calls over the last two years, but so many times he has been his own worst enemy. In defeating Raonic on Saturday he made big shots at the critical junctures. It’s a sign that he’s a more confident athlete, and maybe he’s ready to step into the limelight again.

No matter what happens in Sunday’s final, both Nishikori and Dimitrov have made a strong statement by starting their season off on the right foot.

 

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