Raonic beats Nadal in Brisbane quarters

Defending champion Milos Raonic has beaten 14-time grand slam winner Rafael Nadal in on Friday night’s Brisbane International tennis quarter-final.

World No.3 Raonic of Canada ousted fifth seed Nadal 4-6 6-3 6-4 in just under two-and-a-half hours on Pat Rafter Arena.

Former Wimbledon finalist Raonic, 26, booked a Saturday semi-final with seventh seed and world No.17 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.

World No.9 Nadal might have been ranked lower than top seed Raonic but was the quarter-final favourite after rattling off five wins in the past week in Abu Dhabi and Brisbane.

And he looked every bit the man to beat after he broke in the fifth game, taking the first set in 51 minutes despite Raonic hitting more aces (8-0) and winners (16-8).

The lanky Canadian hit back in the second, breaking in the eighth game to claim the set in 46 minutes.

Raonic broke in the first game of the third set with a booming forehand winner and didn’t look back.

In the end, Raonic led in winners (50-19), aces (23-4) and, surprisingly, unforced errors (35-19).

Nadal – working his way back from knee and wrist injuries – still leads their head-to-head 6-2.

Former Wimbledon semi-finalist Dimitrov upset world No.8 Dominic Thiem of Austria 6-3 4-6 6-3 in an Friday quarter-final, outlasting the fourth seed in just over two hours.

In contrast, world No.5 Kei Nishikori of Japan needed just over an hour to sweep aside the last Australian standing at the tournament – Jordan Thompson.

Nishikori will face Stan Wawrinka in Saturday’s other semi-final after outlasting unseeded Brit Kyle Edmund.

Sydney-based Thompson had become a fan favourite at the Queensland Tennis Centre after his stunning first-round upset of eighth seed David Ferrer of Spain.

But the world No.79 never looked a chance against a determined Nishikori, going down 6-1 6-1 in his maiden ATP quarter-final.

“Maybe I came out a little bit slow. But he was playing pretty bloody well from the start and he continued to play that way,” Thompson said.

“That’s why he’s a top-five player.”

Thompson has assured qualification for the Australian Open and also has a wildcard for next week’s Sydney International.

“It’s the first week of 2017 and I made a quarter-final here in Brisbane – it’s definitely a positive week,” Thompson said.

Wawrinka survived an early scare in his quarter-final, losing the first set tiebreaker but recovered to win 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 6-4 against world No.45 Edmund.

Wawrinka has a 4-3 head-to-head advantage over Nishikori but lost their most-recent meeting at the 2016 season-ending ATP World Tour Finals.

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