Brisbane (Australia) (AFP) – Japanese star Kei Nishikori was in superb form as he demolished Jeremy Chardy 6-2, 6-2 in the Brisbane International semi-finals on Saturday.
The 29-year-old gave his French opponent no chance as he put on a commanding all court display to advance to the final for the second time in three years.
After his impressive straight sets quarter-final win over Grigor Dimitrov, Nishikori said he had set his sights on returning to the world’s top five after falling to 39 last April due to a wrist injury at the end of 2017 that forced a break from the tour.
He showed all the qualities of a top five player in his 66-minute demolition at the Pat Rafter Arena.
He only served two aces compared with the 11 sent down by Chardy, but Nishikori returned superbly and pressured the Frenchman’s serve throughout, breaking him twice in each set.
Nishikori also moved around the court well, his speed not noticeably affected by the injuries that hampered him last year.
“Everything was working well today,” Nishikori said.
“I felt like I was too fast on the court today — I felt very good.
“Physically and tennis-wise I think it was perfect. I served well, I returned well — I think that was the key today — and I was moving well, that was fantastic.”
Nishikori was runner-up to Dimitrov in 2017 and will go into Sunday’s final against fourth seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev as firm favourite.
Medvedev reached the decider with a 7-6 (8/6), 6-2 win over France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Medvedev came back from 0-3 down in the first set then saved two set points in the first set tiebreak before running away with the second.
The Russian, who stands at 1.98 metres, was able to withstand the huge serving of Tsonga and out-hit him from the baseline.
“I was really nervous and he started amazing,” Medvedev said.
“I didn’t do anything wrong. I managed to come back and had more opportunities.”