Kei Nishikori beats Stan Wawrinka after Grigor Dimitrov stuns Milos Raonic
Raonic beaten in straight sets by Bulgarian
Last Updated: 07/01/17 3:33pm
Kei Nishikori set his sights on a Grand Slam title in 2017 after beating Stan Wawrinka in the Brisbane International semi-finals against Grigor Dimitrov.
The top two seeds suffered surprise defeats as their preparations for the Australian Open suffered a blow, but for Nishikori and his opponent in the final, Grigor Dimitrov, it was an early marker as both look to get the year off to the perfect start.
Nishikori beat current US Open and three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in straight sets after Dimitrov had stunned defending champion Raonic with a 7-6 6-2 victory that has filled him with belief for the new season.
The world No 5 has reached one Grand Slam final, losing to Marin Cilic at Flushing Meadow in 2014, but a win in New York against Andy Murray in last year's quarter-final underlined the potential he is looking to fulfil with a major breakthrough over the next 12 months.
"This one will give me a lot of confidence, and hopefully tomorrow too," he said after a 7-6, 6-3 success. "The Grand Slam is going to be a big goal for me to play well.
"It was a really tough first set but I really stayed tough until the tie-break, and I got one or two chance in the tiebreak.
"After that, I think I was playing better in the second."
Earlier in the day, Dimitrov produced one of his finest performances to subdue the world No 3 and top seed Raonic with an emphatic 87-minute victory,
The Bulgarian pinched the first set tie-break and with the Raonic serve faltering he broke twice more in the second set to reach a second Brisbane final - he lost to Andy Murray in 2013 - and will face a tough test in Nishikori.
"There are guys that I have always played differently, I feel," he said.
"Kei is one of those guys. I think last year we played a pretty close match. I felt like I had my chance and my momentum.
"But it's just another match for me. As I said, it's the final. I'm not playing anything next week so for sure, I'm going to get out there and just leave it all."
In Chennai Roberto Bautista Agut will face Daniil Medvedev in Sunday's final, the Spaniard beat Benoit Paire in straight sets while 20-year-old Medvedev saved a match point before putting away Dudi Sela.