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Nishikori Sets Hewitt SF Clash

Brisbane, Australia

Nishikori© Getty ImagesKei Nishikori is looking to reach his sixth ATP World Tour final.

Second seed Kei Nishikori advanced to the semi-finals of the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp in scorching temperatures on Friday at the Queensland Tennis Centre. The Japanese player edged Marin Cilic 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 in two hours and 37 minutes.

Nishikori improved to a 4-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head record over Cilic as he saved 14 of the 15 break points he faced. "It was hot, it was tough conditions," said Nishikori. "Especially playing one-hour sets, two [hours] and forty minutes (on court). It was not easy, but I'm happy to finish strong in the third set. He was dropping his level a little bit I think. I'm very happy today. 

"It is a big challenge for me to play a final in the first week of the [season]. I have been playing well and I had a good preparation, so I feel like I can."

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Nishikori is through to the semi-finals in Brisbane for the second year in a row, with his run ending against Andy Murray last year. The 24 year old will look to reach his sixth ATP World Tour final when he faces Lleyton Hewitt.

Former World No. 1 Hewitt cruised to a 6-4, 6-2 win over qualifier Marius Copil, who had upset third seed Gilles Simon on Thursday. The Australian, a two-time Grand Slam champion, won 75 per cent of his service points and converted four of his five break points to claim victory in 72 minutes.

"In the end my ball striking was great," said Hewitt. "I felt really comfortable. Felt like I controlled all of the points from halfway through the first set. 

"Even from the first game I felt like I was pretty sharp with my return of serve. It was just trying more trying to find out where he was going, especially on big points, stuff like that. In the end I felt like I put pressure on nearly every one of his service games."

Hewitt and Nishikori have met once before, with Hewitt prevailing in four sets in the 2011 Wimbledon first round. The 32 year old is looking to win his first title since 2010 at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle this week.

"This is still why you play the game, to have a crack at the best guys out there. Obviously every match gets tougher. Nishikori tomorrow is going to be tougher again. Another step up in class. He looks to be hitting the ball well at the moment and really clean out there. It's obviously great preparation for the Australian Open, but I wanted to do well here this week. So far so good."

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