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Murray Sets Nishikori SF; Baghdatis To Face Dimitrov

Brisbane, Australia

Nishikori© AFP/Getty ImagesKei Nishikori has Top 10 ambitions in 2013 and is chasing his third ATP World Tour title in Brisbane.

World No. 3 Andy Murray advanced to the semi-finals of the Brisbane International on Friday as he defeated Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin 6-4, 7-6(3). The Scot converted his only break point chance and lost just eight points on first serve to prevail in one hour and 37 minutes.

"For the most part it was pretty good quality," said Murray. "He served well for the majority of the first set, and especially well at the beginning the second. So I didn't really have that many chances on returns, so I needed to serve well today. That helped."

Murray won the title in Brisbane last year (d. Dolgopolov) before making a run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open three weeks later (l. to Djokovic). The Dunblane native went onto win the US Open title (d. Djokovic), Olympic gold (d. Federer) and reach the Wimbledon final (l. to Federer) in a career-best year.

For a place in his 38th tour-level final, Murray will look to build on a 2-0 record against Kei Nishikori. He defeated the Japanese player in last year’s Australian Open quarter-finals. 

The fifth-seeded Nishikori recorded his second win in two meetings with fourth seed Alexandr Dolgopolov, beating last year’s runner-up 6-4, 7-6(3) in 87 minutes. The 23 year old is bidding to win his third ATP World Tour title this week.

Video courtesy Tennis Australia. Visit the official tournament website

“It's going to be a big step year for me,” said Nishikori, who reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final in Melbourne in 2012. “I will try to get into the Top 10 hopefully and stay healthy and stay strong.  That's the goal for this year.”

Marcos Baghdatis defeated third seed Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals of the Brisbane International for the first time. Baghdatis won 78 percent of his first serve points and broke the Frenchman three times to seal the victory in 81 minutes. The Cypriot moved ahead 3-2 in the pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

Video courtesy Tennis Australia. Visit the official tournament website

On the prospect of winning his first ATP World Tour title since lifting the trophy at the Apia International Sydney in 2010 (d. Gasquet), Baghdatis said, “Why not?  What I'm focused on is to continue the same rhythm I'm playing with, continue playing matches like that, and finding the consistency that I’ve been looking for the last few years, which I don't have. I think that the title will come once I find that.”

The 36th-ranked Baghdatis has a 38-14 record in tour-level events in Australia, highlighted by his lone major final appearance at the Australian Open in 2006 (l. Federer) and winning Sydney in 2010. He is looking to capture his fourth hard-court title this week.

For a spot in Sunday’s final, Baghdatis will take on Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, who continued his strong start to the season with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over seventh-seeded Austrian Jurgen Melzer. The 21-year-old Dimitrov, who reached three ATP World Tour semi-finals in 2012, fired 17 aces and converted all three of his break point chances.

"I feel good on these courts here, and the conditions actually suit me," said Dimitrov. "I'm always looking for the next match, which is always a goal for me after I had two first tough matches. So I was looking really to get on court today and just play some tennis, and of course compose myself and be good."

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