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Nishikori reaches 1st Brisbane final

The Associated Press

Kei Nishikori stretches for a shot during his semifinal match against Stan Wawrinka at the Brisbane International on Saturday in Brisbane, Australia.

The Associated PressBRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Kei Nishikori corrected his bad record in Brisbane International semifinals by beating U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 on Saturday to reach the final for the first time at the season-opening tournament.

Wawrinka, who won the Chennai tournament in India in the first week of the season for the three previous years, had treatment on his lower left leg at the end of the first set tiebreaker and twice again in the second set.

Third-seeded Nishikori took full advantage, converting his first break point in the second set to take a 3-1 lead when Wawrinka missed consecutive backhands. The No. 2-seeded Wawrinka broke back immediately, but dropped his serve again in the next game.

Wawrinka beat Nishikori in the semifinals of the U.S. Open last year; his only win in their last four matches. With his win Saturday, Nishikori has leveled his career head-to-head record against the three-time major winner at 4-4.

Nishikori was making his seventh trip to Brisbane, and playing a semifinal for the fourth time. The Japanese star is still chasing his first Grand Slam title, with his best run at a major remaining his appearance in the 2014 U.S. Open final.

Meanwhile, Milos Raonic’s title defense ended in a semifinal loss to Grigor Dimitrov, a day after his come-from-behind win over Rafael Nadal.

Top-seeded Raonic beat Roger Federer for the title here last year, avenging a loss to the Swiss star in the 2015 final, and appeared to be on course for a third straight Brisbane final when he had set point in the first-set tiebreaker against Dimitrov.

But the 25-year-old Bulgarian held firm, saving that set point, converting his own moments later and then breaking Raonic’s serve twice in the second set on the way to a 7-6 (9-7), 6-2 win.

The No. 17-ranked Dimitrov improved his record to 3-1 in career meetings against Raonic.

U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova was playing unseeded Alize Cornet in the women's final on Saturday night.

Djokovic, Murray in Doha duel

DOHA (AP) — Defending champion Novak Djokovic survived five match points to beat Fernando Verdasco and set up a final against top-ranked Andy Murray, who had far less trouble winning his semifinal as he recorded a seventh straight victory against Tomas Berdych.

On another day of chilly and windy weather Friday, Djokovic prevailed 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-3 after the 42nd-ranked Verdasco, a crafty left-hander and former top-10 player, controlled the first two sets until the latter stages of the tiebreaker.

Murray had no such trouble as he advanced 6-3, 6-4 against third-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic. Murray’s winning streak is now at 28 matches and the British player had 10 aces and 22 winners in a convincing performance.

“It’s a great match against Novak to look forward to,” Murray said on court. “This has been the perfect week to get ready for the Australian Open.”

Murray has beaten Djokovic in two of their last three meetings — including in the final of last year’s season-ending ATP Finals — but the Serb holds a dominant 24-11 career record against Murray.

“We have always very physical battles, long rallies, entertaining matches,” said the second-ranked Djokovic, who beat Murray in last year’s French Open final. “Between one and two in the world, it’s a perfect matchup.”Speech

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