Dimitrov Shocks Top Seed Raonic In Brisbane
Bulgarian to play Nishikori for title
Seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov continued his stellar record against top seed and defending champion Milos Raonic on Saturday at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp, winning the last five games of their semi-final battle to score a 7-6(7), 6-2 upset win.
"Milos is one of the biggest servers out there. I knew what to expect, so I just had to execute it the right way," said Dimitrov. "I played a quite solid game to break him [in the second set] and after that, I was just solid overall. I was reading his serve pretty well after that. From then on, it was just smooth sailing."
This is Dimitrov’s third consecutive win against Raonic, allowing him to improve his record in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series to 3-1.
Standing between Dimitrov and the title is third seed Kei Nishikori, who defeated second seed Stan Wawrinka earlier in the day. The Japanese star leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Dimitrov 3-0, including a quarter-final win last July at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Toronto.
"We played a pretty close match last year. I felt like I had my chance and my momentum," said Dimitrov. "I'm not playing anything next week, so I'm going to get out there and leave it all on the court."
Although Raonic said he was disappointed by the loss, he remains confident about being able to regroup and continue raising his level for the Australian Open.
“I feel very good about it. I stepped up this week and did quite a few very good things. It’s about cleaning things up and now I have some time to do that,” said Raonic. “I feel like I’ve done a lot of things to be a much better player. If I can avoid that hiccup, I can have a very, very good time in Melbourne.”
Neither Raonic or Dimitrov faced a break point on serve in the opening set. In the tie-break, Dimitrov saved a set point on his serve at 5/6, forcing Raonic to do the same down 6/7. But the Bulgarian grabbed the crucial mini-break at 7/7 and made good on his second set point chance.
Dimitrov finally earned the first break of the match to lead 3-2 in the second set and it appeared to break Raonic’s spirits. The seventh seed began rifling winners at will, taking 14 of the last 18 points in the match to secure the victory.