Bernard Tomic has received a sobering reality check ahead of the Australian Open, thrashed by second seed Kei Nishikori at the Brisbane International.
Tomic hardly troubled Japan’s world No.5, who stormed to a 6-0 6-4 quarterfinal victory in just 58 minutes.
The US Open finalist set up a semifinal showdown with Tomic’s Brisbane doubles partner, Canadian third seed Milos Raonic, who earlier held out big-serving Australian Sam Groth 7-6 (5) 3-6 7-6 (2).
And fourth-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dmitrov booked a potential semifinal with Roger Federer after downing Slovakian Martin Klizan 6-3 6-4 on Friday.
The only remaining Australian at the tournament is wildcard James Duckworth, who takes on top seed Federer in the final men’s quarterfinal on Friday night.
World No.53 Tomic appeared to arrive at Brisbane fitter than ever following hip surgery that interrupted his last season.
And he had looked the goods on court, dismissing American Sam Querrey and putting Australian teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis in his place in the first two rounds.
However, the former Wimbledon quarterfinalist ran out of legs against Nishikori, who came out swinging in front of a shellshocked Pat Rafter Arena crowd.
Nishikori thrashed 15 winners to Tomic’s six as the Australian made six unforced errors in a whirlwind first set that lasted just 21 minutes.
Tomic tried to regroup in the second, but Nishikori broke in the 10th game before serving out the match.
It is a setback for Tomic, who had built momentum returning from hip surgery last year, claiming a second career title in Bogota and a Stockholm semifinal berth.
Nishikori finished 2014 in the top 10 for the first time after a breakthrough year which featured his US Open final appearance.
> Watch match highlights here (only available outside Australia):