Kei Nishikori is within striking distance of his first title in almost three years.
The Japanese No.2 seed put in a polished performance in a 6-2 6-2 defeat of Frenchman Jeremy Chardy to secure his place in a second Brisbane International final on Saturday.
It was Nishikori’s seventh win from nine clashes against the world No.40, the 31-year-old who derailed Nick Kyrgios’s title defence.
“Nothing better than this today,” Nishikori said. “I felt like I was too fast on the court today … Tomorrow I will go for a trophy.”
Not since Memphis in February, 2016, has Nishikori prevailed in a tour final. He has lost his past nine and could break that drought when he meets either former world No.5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or No.4 seed Daniil Medvedev.
“That was clinical!”
Indeed. Nishikori storms by Chardy 6-2 6-2 in just 66 minutes to earn his way back into the #BrisbaneTennis final for the first time since 2017
He’ll meet either Tsonga or Medvedev there pic.twitter.com/PuBUo8Gq56
— #BrisbaneTennis (@BrisbaneTennis) January 5, 2019
In a polished opening set, Nishikori committed just five unforced errors with six winners to his opponent’s 14 unforced errors to seven winners.
And in the second set, the world No.9 was even stingier on points surrendered cheaply, with just three unforced errors to the Frenchman’s 12.
“Maybe first match was a little bit tight, but after Dimi’s [Grigor Dimitrov] match and today’s match was almost perfect, I would say. Serve and return was phenomenal today,” Nishikori said.
“I think he was missing a little bit more than last couple matches, that’s for sure. But I played very solid today. Everything was good.”
After missing last year’s Australian Open through injury, Nishikori has impressed this season.
He beat Grigor Dimitrov, his conqueror in Brisbane two years ago, to book his place in the final four.
Tickets are still available via Ticketek to Sunday’s blockbuster finals session with the men’s singles, women’s singles and men’s doubles titles on the line. Category B tickets are now just $99 for adults, $80 for children 16 and under.