Japan’s world No.5 Kei Nishikori has beaten US Open champion Stan Wawrinka to win through to the Brisbane International men’s final.
Third seed Nishikori on Saturday ousted Swiss world No.4 Wawrinka 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 in just over 90 minutes in their semifinal on Pat Rafter Arena.
Nishikori will on Sunday play Bulgaria’s world No.17 Grigor Dimitrov for his 12th career title.
“I think he started playing much better last year especially end of the season,” Nishikori said of Dimitrov.
“I think he’s playing better again. He’s the next top 10 player.”
The Rio Olympic bronze medallist levelled his career head-to-head with second seed Wawrinka at 4-4 and has now won three of their past four meetings in five months.
Wawrinka complained of a left foot problem leading 5-4 in the first set and received courtside treatment after the next game.
Nishikori, 27, then took charge in the opening tiebreaker, winning five of the final six points to claim the first set in an hour.
The pair began the second set exchanging breaks before Nishikori again got the jump in the seventh game and didn’t look back.
Nishikori has moved through to his first Brisbane tournament decider despite featuring in the semifinals for the fourth time.
Wawrinka was satisfied with having made the semifinals on his Brisbane debut.
“We know each other really well. We played many times against each other and practise, also, a lot,” Wawrinka said of his Japanese foe.
“I think today he was really aggressive, was really strong from the baseline, didn’t give me much.
“(But) I think my level, in general, was good. I had three good and tough matches, playing better each match.
“Today I didn’t take my opportunity but I think the level, in general, was really high for first week of the year.
“I’m really disappointed to lose in a semifinal but I have to take some positives from the week and go with that.”