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Thiem out, Troicki eyes 3rd Sydney ATP win

AAP logoAAP 11/01/2017 Rob Forsaith and Matt Encarnacion

Serbia might be his homeland but Sydney is fast becoming Viktor Troicki's favourite city, with the world No.29 on the cusp of making open-era history in Australia.

After a quarter-final walkover on Thursday, two-time defending champion Troicki will meet Luxembourg lefty Gilles Muller in the semi-finals of the Sydney International.

Plenty of intrigue surrounds the second semi, where Andrey Kuznetsov faces off against Britain's Daniel Evans, who has upset Austrian top seed and world No.8 Dominic Thiem.

Evans came back from a set down to win 6-3 4-6 1-6 on Ken Rosewall Arena.

The win was the world No.67's first over a top-20 player, while Kuznetsov ended the unwanted title of being the only player in the top 50 without a semi-final by beating Pablo Carreno Busta.

Lleyton Hewitt and Pete Sampras are among those to have won back-to-back Sydney titles but nobody has lifted three consecutive trophies since Australian John Bromwich from 1937-40.

"If it happens, it would be great. I'd be honoured, but I'm not thinking about it," Troicki said.

Troicki was disappointed with the nature of his 14th-straight win at the event - progressing after Philipp Kohlschreiber's withdrawal because of a back injury.

"It's pretty weird to go into the semi-finals with only one win," Troicki said, having also enjoyed a bye in the opening round.

But the 30-year-old was thrilled with his form in Sydney, having already spent five weeks in Australia in an effort to prepare for the season-opening grand slam.

"This is by far the most successful tournament for me. I also played one final here in 2011. I don't know what it is - it's a nice court, nice arena ... great fans, great city," he said.

"I come to Australia early to prepare with my coach, so ... I'm more prepared than the other guys. When they get here, they're shocked by the heat and time change.

"That's a big advantage."

Muller's preparation for the Australian Open has been in sharp contrast. A mystery illness floored him in Brisbane, where he spent most of his time in a hotel room.

But Muller proved both fitness and form on Thursday, cruising into the final four for a third straight year at the expense of second seed Pablo Cuevas 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

Muller, never progressing beyond the fourth round of the Australian Open and chasing his maiden ATP title, was still crook last week when he hit Sydney.

Three-set struggles against Alexandr Dolgopolov and Matt Barton - the latter in Wednesday's 40-degree heatwave - ensued.

But Muller looked a different player on Thursday. Cuevas saved six set points during the first set, including two in the tiebreaker, but failed to halt Muller's march to victory.

"I'm definitely feeling better. After getting through that (Wednesday's heat), I can get through anything," Muller said.

"I don't know what it was ... I had a fever for a couple of days and was not able to get out of the (hotel) room at all. When I got here, it was still quite tough."

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