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    Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka dispatch unheralded foes to renew rivalry in Brisbane semis duel

    Jan 6, 2017
    Kei Nishikori needed just an hour to beat wildcard entry Jordan Thompson and set up a semis duel with Stan Wawrinka. AP

    BRISBANE, Australia — Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori will renew a growing rivalry when they meet in the semifinals of the Brisbane International.

    Wawrinka dropped the opening set in a tiebreaker against unseeded Kyle Edmund on Friday but recovered for a 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4 win, reaching the last four in his first trip to the Brisbane tournament.

    In the previous three years, Wawrinka won the title in Chennai in the first week of the season before heading to Australia for the season's first major.

    "Was a tough match, for sure. Long match. Quite humid, also. Also tough physically. But, in general, I think I'm feeling good and ready (for the semifinals)," Wawrinka said. "For sure, I want to win more matches here and not stop now."

    Wawrkina has a 4-3 lead over Nishikori in career head-to-heads, including the semifinals at the U.S. Open last year, but Nishikori won two of the three meetings in 2016.

    "We always play a really tough match," Wawrinka said. "We played each other few times already last few months, so it's going to be interesting to see. We practiced here this week. I'm sure it's going to be a good match."

    Nishikori has now reached the semifinals four times in seven visits to the Brisbane International, needing just an hour for a 6-1, 6-1 quarterfinal win over Australian wild-card entry Jordan Thompson.

    Thompson beat former top 10 regular David Ferrer in the second round but against Nishikori, he only managed to hold serve twice.

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    Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open finalist, only made 11 unforced errors and didn't face a breakpoint.

    "He was, I guess, a little bit tired, for sure. Against David, he was playing great match and maybe he wasn't 100 percent today," Nishikori said. "But for me, I think I played one of the best matches so far, really dominating from the baseline and serving good today. Everything was working well."

    Seventh-seeded Grigor Dimitrov had a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over No. 4 Dominic Thiem and will meet either defending champion Milos Raonic or 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in the semifinals.

    In the women's semifinals, French Open champion Garbine Muguruza retired with a right thigh injury while trailing Alize Cornet 4-1 in the first set. Cornet advanced to a final against either U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova or sixth-seeded Elina Svitolina, who ousted No. 1-ranked Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals.

    "When she decided to stop, I was a little bit surprised, but a little bit of luck never killed anybody," said Cornet, who finished last year ranked No. 46 but now expects to be seeded at the Australian Open. "I'm just going to take it. I really enjoy the fact that I'm in the final. It's a big day for me, yeah."

    Muguruza has had a run of injuries in Brisbane. She retired after one set last year and withdrew entirely in 2015.

    She didn't think the latest setback would trouble her at the Australian Open.

    "It will not stop me. I just felt a little bit exhausted on the court," Muguruza said. "Cornet was playing good. I couldn't match her level today. I had some pains, and I thought it was more smart to take care of my body."

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    Kei Nishikori needed just an hour to beat wildcard entry Jordan Thompson and set up a semis duel with Stan Wawrinka. AP
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