Serbian Viktor Troicki on cusp of third Sydney International tournament victory

Viktor Troicki of Serbia is into the semifinals as he seeks a third straight tournament victory at the Sydney International.
BRADLEY KANARIS/GETTY IMAGES

Viktor Troicki of Serbia is into the semifinals as he seeks a third straight tournament victory at the Sydney International.

Serbia is Viktor Troicki's homeland but Sydney is fast becoming his favourite city, with the world No 29 two wins away from making open-era history in Australia.

Two-time defending champion Troicki will meet Luxembourg lefty Gilles Muller on Friday in the semifinals of the Sydney International.

Lleyton Hewitt and Pete Sampras are among the players to have won back-to-back titles in Sydney but nobody has lifted the trophy in three consecutive years 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 on Thursday.

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

"It's pretty weird to go into the semifinals with only one win," Troicki said, having 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," he said.

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"I don't know what it is - it's a nice court, nice arena ... great fans, great city.

"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 at the expense of second seed Pablo Cuevas.

Muller reached the Sydney semis for a third-straight year by beating world No 22 Cuevas 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in one hour and 36 minutes.

Muller, who had never progressed 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 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."

Andrey Kuznetsov, formerly the only player in the ATP's top 50 yet to feature in a semi, enjoyed a comeback 2-6 6-4 6-1 win on Thursday over fourth seed Pablo Carreno Busta.

Kuznetsov will meet top seed Dominic Thiem or Brit Daniel Evans in the other semi.

MULLER INTO SEMIS

Luxembourg lefty Gilles Muller's preparation for the Australian Open looked set to be derailed by a mystery illness that 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 semifinals of the Sydney International at the expense of second seed Pablo Cuevas.

Andrey Kuznetsov, formerly the only player in the ATP's top 50 yet to feature in a semi, also advanced to the final four with a 2-6 6-4 6-1 win over fourth seed Pablo Carreno Busta.

Carreno Busta capitulated, losing eight of the final nine games in a match that lasted one hour and 45 minutes.

Muller reached the Sydney semis for a third straight year by beating world No 22 Cuevas 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in one hour and 36 minutes.

It was comfortably Muller's most-impressive showing of the year, with the 33 -year-old to next battle two-time defending champion Viktor Troicki for a place in the final. Kuznetsov will meet either top seed Dominic Thiem or Daniel Evans.

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

Three-set struggles against Alexandr Dolgopolov and Matt Barton, the latter in Wednesday's 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 got a cold in Luxembourg just before I left and ... I think I caught something on the way to Brisbane.

"I had a fever for a couple of days and was not able to get out of the (hotel) room at all. Then when I got here, it was still quite tough.

"I was still feeling a bit heavy on the court ... not moving well and getting tired quickly."

Muller was confident he would be physically ready to face Troicki, who advanced to the semis with a walkover on Thursday after Philipp Kohlschreiber's withdrawal, in stifling heat.

"It's hard on both players. It's something we're used to in Australia and it's something that is good preparation for Melbourne," Muller said of the heatwave.

"You just have to get used to these things. What better way to do it than playing matches.

"I didn't spend too much time on the court today so I'm confident I'll feel pretty good tomorrow,.

"It's going to be tough ... he beat me here in the semi-finals two years ago."

 - AAP

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