Grigor Dimitrov beats Kei Nishikori in Brisbane for first title since 2014
Bulgarian records 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 win in Sunday’s final having beat defending champion Milos Raonic in the semi-finals
Grigor Dimitrov ended a long wait between ATP titles after beating third seed Kei Nishikori 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 on Sunday night to win the Brisbane International final and claim his first tournament victory since 2014.
Dimitrov, dubbed ‘Baby Fed’ earlier in his career for his style similarities with Roger Federer, lost the Brisbane International final to Andy Murray in 2013.
He won three titles in 2014, and reached the Wimbledon semi-finals as he rose to a career-high ranking of eighth.
But his form faded and he slipped down the rankings to 40th in the middle of last year before starting a career resurgence and entering the season-opening Brisbane event ranked 17th and seeded seventh.
“It’s been pretty emotional,” Dimitrov said. “This trophy means a lot.”
He beat defending champion Milos Raonic in the semi-finals, and against Nishikori, who reached his first Brisbane final after losing three previous semi-finals, he fended off two breakpoints in the first game and another in the third to hold, absorbing all the early pressure before going on the attack and racing through the set.
The second set was almost a reverse of the first, with Dimitrov missing a breakpoint chance early before Nishikori rallied to win it in 33 minutes and level at the tie.
Nishikori had a medical timeout for what appeared to be a left hip problem and got treatment in the locker room after the second set.
He lost momentum in the third, as Dimitrov upped his level again, and the 25-year-old Bulgarian didn’t drop a point in his first two service games and maintained the pressure on Nishikori’s serve, eventually forcing a break in the eighth game for a 5-3 lead.
He held at love to close out for his fifth career title when Nishikori hit a forehand long.
“First time to be in the finals, so I was very happy this week,” Nishikori said. “I hope I can come back next year – someday I want to win this title.”