Tennis: Nishikori falls to Dimitrov in Brisbane final
World No. 5 Kei Nishikori of Japan failed to capture his season-opening tournament, losing 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 to Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov in Sunday's Brisbane International final.
Nishikori failed to capitalize on a second-set comeback, allowing Dimitrov, the seventh seed and world No. 17, back in the match. The win was the 25-year-old Bulgarian's first over Nishikori in their four career matches.
Although the third-seeded Nishikori had the upper hand at the start, some unbelievable shots allowed Dimitrov to stay even and earn the first break to go up 4-2. Nishikori varied his shots and serves, but Dimitrov returned well and simply got to everything until the Japanese star started rushing and throwing away points.
Nishikori lost five straight games before a couple of mistakes by Dimitrov allowed him to survive a breakpoint and pull even at 1-1 in the second set. Nishikori began matching Dimitrov's circus shots with his own, won two service breaks and closed out the set as the Bulgarian appeared frustrated and less able to anticipate the Japanese player's shots.
Although Dimitrov had appeared sluggish at the end of the second set, a long rest while Nishikori sought medical treatment after the set appeared to help. Nishikori had to survive the final set's first breakpoint to pull level at 1-1. But after 3-3, Dimitrov seized control, and clinched the championship when Nishikori returned long on the first match point.
The title was Dimitrov's fifth on tour and his first in three seasons.