BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – Bernard Tomic ended Kei Nishikori’s streak of semifinal appearances at the Brisbane International with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 win over the second seed in the quarterfinals on Friday afternoon.
Tomic’s first win over a top-10 player on home soil earned him a spot in the last four against 2015 finalist Milos Raonic and a possible top 16 seeding for the Australian Open, which starts Jan. 18 in Melbourne.
Fourth-seeded Raonic, who lost the Brisbane final last year to Roger Federer, relied on his big serve to dictate play in a 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 78-ranked Lucas Pouille.
Tomic fired nine aces in the first set and broke in the eighth game, but Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open finalist, won five straight games in the second set to level the match and maintain his hopes of reaching the Brisbane semifinals for the fourth straight year.
After racing to a 4-1 lead in the third, Tomic clinched it on his first match point, avenging a loss to Nishikori here last year.
“That was very, very special to me,” Tomic said. “Last year, unfortunately, I lost very comfortably to Kei, and today played very different.”
Nishikori conceded Tomic was simply too good.
“Obviously I didn’t play my best tennis today, but I think he played good tennis, too,” the 26-year-old said.
“He served really well. He saved many important points with his serve. He was running from side to side and he got me so many balls back, so it was really tough to play.”
Federer will play Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals on Friday night. The winner of that match will play either third-seeded Marin Cilic or No. 8 Dominic Thiem.
At the Hopman Cup in Perth, Andy Murray and Heather Watson each had 6-3, 6-4 wins over German opponents — Alexander Zverev and Sabine Lisicki — to stay in contention for Saturday’s final.
Murray and Watson needed to win the mixed doubles match being played later Friday and hope that the Australia Green team, which had a 2-0 record in the round-robin part of the tournament, loses to France in a night match. Australia Green can secure a spot in the final against Ukraine with a win over France.
Watson lost just four points on her serve in the first set and broke Lisicki three times.
Djokovic, Nadal advance
Top-seeded Novak Djokovic survived a second-set challenge to dismiss eighth-seeded Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-3, 7-5 to reach the Qatar Open semifinal on Thursday.
Mayer made four unforced errors when serving for the second set at 5-4 which opened the door for Djokovic to take a straight-set victory.
He will play Tomas Berdych in the semifinals against whom he has a 21-2 winning record. Berdych, of the Czech Republic, beat Kyle Edmund of Britain 6-3, 6-2.
“I think I’ve played better first and second sets, but credit to him for being solid and going for his shots,” Djokovic said. “The second set was very close and it could’ve gone his way. It was a good test to see where I am.”
Despite being broken four times, second-seeded Rafael Nadal advanced to the semifinals with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 win against Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia.
“He played so crazy with amazing shots,” said Nadal. “It’s true that I missed the serve more times than what I wanted. I think I played a great third set, because if not, I will not be in that semifinal.”
Nadal will take on unheralded Illya Marchenko. The Ukrainian, who beat fourth-seeded David Ferrer in the first round, defeated seventh-seeded Jeremy Chardy of France 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).