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Dimitrov books surprise Brisbane final

AAP logoAAP 7/01/2017 Laine Clark

Being Maria Sharapova's former boyfriend is arguably Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov's biggest claim to fame to date.

But the world No.17 appears ready to make a name for himself in 2017.

The seventh seed booked a final showdown with Japan's Kei Nishikori on Sunday after stunning big serving top seed Milos Raonic in straight sets at Pat Rafter Arena.

The 25-year-old brought an abrupt end to world No.3 Raonic's title defence, romping to a 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 win in just under 90 minutes on Saturday.

He now has Nishikori in his sights after the world No.5 upset out of sorts US Open champion Stan Wawrinka 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 in their semi-final

Third seed Nishikori has the edge over the Bulgarian, with a 3-0 head to head record.

Dimitrov was arguably more famous for being Sharapova's boyfriend than his on-court record not so long ago, although they split in 2015.

The former world No.8's ranking fell to 40 just six months ago.

But he dug deep to break back into the top 20 in late 2016 and has again impressed in Brisbane.

"It's always good to start the year like this," Dimitrov said.

"I'm really focused on the first six months of the year.

"If you keep winning and keep improving, everything comes with it.

"When you have a good start like that, you just have to appreciate it and just get on with it."

Lanky Canadian Raonic looked like the man to beat after ousting 14-time grand slam winner Rafael Nadal in three sets in Friday night's quarter-final.

Especially after he held a set point in the opening tiebreaker against Dimitrov.

But the Bulgarian saved it and soon converted his own before breaking Raonic's serve twice in the second set.

Former Wimbledon semi-finalist Dimitrov extended his head to head record over Raonic to 3-1.

He also booked his second Brisbane International final appearance after losing the 2013 decider to Andy Murray.

Meanwhile, Rio Olympic bronze medallist Nishikori levelled his career head-to-head with second seed Wawrinka at 4-4.

Former US Open runner-up Nishikori has now won three of their last four meetings.

Nishikori has moved through to his first Brisbane tournament decider.

"I think he started playing much better last year especially end of the season," Nishikori said of Dimitrov.

"I think he's playing better again. He's the next top 10 player."

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