Dimitrov dethrones defending champion

7 January 2017
By brisbaneinternational.com.au with AAP

Seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov is through to his second Brisbane International final after springing the upset on top seed and defending champion Milos Raonic on Saturday.

The 25-year-old Bulgarian saved a set point in the first-set tiebreak before seizing it 9-7 and broke twice in the second set for a 7-6(7) 6-2 result to book a final showdown with Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who upset US Open champion Stan Wawrinka 7-6 (3) 6-3 in their semifinal.

Third seed Nishikori has the edge over the Bulgarian, with a 3-0 head-to-head record.

Former world No.8 Dimitrov’s ranking fell as low as No.40 only six months ago. But he dug deep to break back into the top 20 late last season and has again impressed in Brisbane.

“It’s always good to start the year like this,” Dimitrov said. “I’m really focused on the first six months of the year.

“If you keep winning and keep improving, everything comes with it. When you have a good start like that, you just have to appreciate it and just get on with it.”

Canadian Raonic looked like the man to beat after ousting 14-time grand slam winner Rafael Nadal in three sets in Friday night’s quarterfinal.

Especially after he held a set point in the opening tiebreak against Dimitrov.

But the Bulgarian saved it and soon converted his own before breaking Raonic’s serve twice in the second set.

Former Wimbledon semifinalist Dimitrov extended his head-to-head record over Raonic to 3-1.

He also booked his second Brisbane International final appearance after losing the 2013 decider to Andy Murray.

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