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Top seed Milos Raonic recovered from a set down to beat Rafael Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in their Brisbane International quarter-final clash on Friday.
Nadal was the stronger man early on, although Raonic settled into a superb rhythm on his serve to take the game away from his opponent. The Canadian will face Grigor Dimitrov in the last four after the Bulgarian got the better of Dominic Thiem. The second semi-final will be an entertaining one, too, with second seed Stan Wawrinka to face third seed Kei Nishikori.
In the women’s draw there was disappointment for Garbine Muguruza, as the fourth seed retired from her match with Alize Cornet. The Frenchwoman’s opponent in the final will be determined later in the day, when Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina face off.
Here are the results from Friday’s matches and a look back at another absorbing day in Brisbane as the competition moves toward a thrilling conclusion.
|(1) Milos Raonic bt. (5) Rafael Nadal||4-6, 6-3, 6-4|
|(2) Stanislas Wawrinka bt. Kyle Edmund||6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4|
|(3) Kei Nishikori bt. Jordan Thompson||6-1, 6-1|
|(7) Grigor Dimitrov bt. (4) Dominic Thiem||6-3, 4-6, 6-3|
|(6) Elina Svitolina vs. (3) Karolina Pliskova||TBC|
|Alize Cornet bt. (4) Garbine Muguruza||4-1 (Ret)|
Provisional order of play to follow..
Nadal started this marquee match with a swagger, putting Raonic under pressure and grabbing an early break of serve against the Canadian. It was a blow that saw the Spaniard grow in confidence, and he was able to serve the set out with relative ease.
Raonic made major improvements as a player in 2016, most notably in terms of his mental strength, and that was on show as he launched his comeback.
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Raonic showcased great determination to get back into the match.
After saving two break points at 2-2 in the second set, Raonic pushed on, breaking Nadal’s serve to move 5-3 ahead and then using his exceptional ability with the ball in hand to level the match up. By now, the world No. 3 had wrestled back momentum in the match.
The decider followed a similar tone, as Nadal struggled to find a foothold on his opponent’s serve. Per Live Tennis, there was some excellent power play on show from the top seed:
Hold to love from #Raonic. Big, booming and accurate serving from the Canadian.
Nothing Rafa can do about that.
Raonic is one game away… pic.twitter.com/OXg0YFuwE0
— Live Tennis (@livetennis) January 6, 2017
In a position to serve for the match, there was little doubt about the outcome, as Raonic clinched a quality contest and his place in Saturday’s semi.
Dimitrov is the man who stands between the top seed and a final berth, as he took advantage of a profligate Thiem over three sets. Per Jose Morgado of Record, the Austrian didn’t make the most of the opportunities he had over the course of the contest:
Dimitrov 4-2 in the 3rd. Thiem won’t win a single tennis match with a 1/14 break point conversion.
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) January 6, 2017
The standout performer of the day in the men’s draw was undoubtedly Nishikori, though, as he swatted aside Jordan Thompson 6-1, 6-1 in a lopsided affair.
The home player couldn’t get near the Japanese star and showed signs of weariness following his epic win over David Ferrer in the previous round. Per the event’s official Twitter feed, Nishikori admitted he was very pleased with his display:
#Nishikori: “For me it was the best I’ve played so far at #BrisbaneTennis. Everything was working well.” pic.twitter.com/ZOZI8efhCB
— #BrisbaneTennis (@BrisbaneTennis) January 6, 2017
Physically, he’s set to have the edge over Wawrinka in their semi-final, as the Swiss had to dig deep in his match against Kyle Edmund, which lasted two hours and 36 minutes.
The U.S. Open champion was unable to pull away from the Briton in the first stanza and eventually lost it in a tiebreak.
But, as anticipated, Wawrinka upped the ante. An early break in both of the remaining sets paved the way for his recovery, although, based on the standards showcased by Nishikori, the Swiss will have to make significant improvements if he’s to make the final.
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Wawrinka had to dig deep to get the better of Edmund.
In the women’s draw, Muguruza could only muster five games against Cornet before throwing in the towel 4-1 down. The French Open champion complained about a thigh issue before stopping, but Muguruza insisted it is not expected to hinder her Australian Open plans.
“No, it will not stop me,” Muguruza said of her Grand Slam preparations, per AAP (h/t SBS). “I just felt a little bit exhausted on the court. I have been dealing with tiredness and issues with all these hard matches I have been playing, and today I was far from 100 per cent.”
Meanwhile, Cornet was pleased to progress into the final regardless of the circumstances:
Couldn’t have a bigger smile and be more excited about playing the final of one of my fav tournament @BrisbaneTennis 😁 !! See you tomorrow ! pic.twitter.com/7w7wU8dDHL
— Alize Cornet (@alizecornet) January 6, 2017
Her opponent will be determined later in the day on Friday. Third seed Pliskova will be the favourite to come through that one, although after eliminating top seed and world No. 1 Angelique Kerber in the previous round, Svitolina will be confident of keeping her run going.