Defending champion Murray reaches Brisbane final

Andy Murray

Andy Murray is back where he kicked off his breakthrough 2012 season and his working partnership with Ivan Lendl, only one win away from successfully defending his title at the Brisbane International.

The reigning Brisbane, Olympic and U.S. Open champion advanced to the final when fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori retired with an injured left knee when trailing 6-4, 2-0 in their semifinal on Saturday.

Still in his way is Grigor Dimitrov, the 21-year-old Bulgarian who is starting to live up to his reputation as a star-in-the-making by reaching his first ATP Tour final with a 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (5) over 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis.

The women's final was set for Saturday night with Serena Williams against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Both Murray and Dimitrov have an eye on the Australian Open, which starts on Jan. 14, but both are conscious of the early-season interest in a showdown between a member of the fabulous four and a player in the up-and-coming group who are determined to break the domination that Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Murray and Rafael Nadal have had in the majors.

Murray knows what is at stake Sunday, recalling his first ATP Tour final against Federer _ he lost at Bangkok in 2005 _ as an opportunity to go for his shots with nothing to lose.

The top four men are constantly asked about players who're capable of being in the next generation of champions. The 25-year-old Murray is now including Dimitrov on his list.

"From my point of view, I hope that there isn't people coming through because it means that I'll be one of the ones that's losing out on a spot,'' he said, only half joking. "There are loads of guys that are very, very tough players, all with different games.

"Grigor plays with a lot of variety. He can play a lot of shots. He's one the few guys coming through that's got a single-handed backhand as well, so he uses a lot more slice than the others.''

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