Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov upset the fifth-ranked player in the world, Kei Nishikori, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3, in Sunday's Brisbane International final at Brisbane, Australia.
Dimitrov, ranked 17th in the world, won for the first time in 2 1/2 years and defeated Nishikori for the first time in four matches. Dimitrov was in his second Brisbane final, having lost the 2013 title match to Andy Murray.
"It is one of the big moments for me," Dimitrov said after the match. "That was an emotional win for me, but at the same time, it wasn't unexpected. I have put in the work. I think I have learned a lot. I have gone through some serious work and I have just been working on myself on and off the court."
The two finalists were evenly matched for the first two sets. In a mirror image of the first set, Nishikori fought off a breakpoint early in the second set and went on to break Dimitrov's serve twice to win the second set.
But then an avalanche of unforced errors by Nishikori in the third set proved to be his downfall.
The turning point seemed to be a long medical timeout Nishikori was forced to take because of a painful left hip.
Nishikori, the No. 3 seed, was never able to recover against Dimitrov, the No. 7 seed. In winning the championship, Dimitrov also defeated big-hitting Milos Raonic (the top seed and defending champ) to get to the final.
Nishikori, who lost only two games in his quarterfinal victory, ousted the second-seeded Wawrinka 7-6 (3), 6-3 to punch his ticket to the final.
Nishikori's status for the Australian Open, which begins Jan. 16, shouldn't be endangered.
"It's no big deal, I should be OK," he said.