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Kei Nishikori, Grigor Dimitrov win in Brisbane to set up rematch of 2017 final

AP, Kyodo

Kei Nishikori and Grigor Dimitrov had straight-sets wins Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals at the Brisbane International, where they’ll meet in a rematch of the 2017 final.

Second-seeded Nishikori broke at love in the 11th game to seize momentum in a 7-5, 6-2 win over Denis Kudla in the second round, his season-opening match after earning a first-round bye.

The 29-year-old Japanese did not face a single break point and wrapped up the match against the world No. 63 Bulgarian in 1 hour, 19 minutes.

“It was tough but I was able to play a good match,” Nishikori said. “The level of my opponent dropped a little after going 5-5 in the first set, and I was able to pick up my level and play aggressively.”

“It was a good way to start this season’s singles matches.” said Nishikori, who reached November’s ATP Finals after coming back from a wrist injury sustained in 2017.

Sixth-seeded Dimitrov, who beat Nishikori in the 2017 final, had to withstand a late comeback from local favorite John Millman before winning 6-3, 6-4. He had three points for a 5-1 lead in the second set but was broken as Millman went on a roll before fading late.

“I was two breaks up and then all a sudden it was 4-all and he was up 40-15,” Dimitrov said, explaining the lapse he had before regaining control at the Pat Rafter Arena. “It was a great match. I feel positive from it. My movement went really well.”

In the day’s biggest upset, qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama beat third-seeded Kyle Edmund in the second round, winning 7-6 (8-6), 6-4.

The 185th-ranked Uchiyama knocked out the No. 14 Briton by hitting 15 aces against Edmund’s seven and saving all three of the break points he faced.

“I’m much more happy that I beat my opponent today than reached the quarterfinals,” Uchiyama said. “Playing a good match is different from forcing a win. Winning means a lot to me.”

The 26-year-old Uchiyama will face France’s Jeremy Chardy for a semifinal spot.

Anastasija Sevastova set up a women’s quarterfinal match against U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka when she beat Harriet Dart 6-2, 6-0.