Nishikori reaches quarterfinals at Brisbane International

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) Second-seeded Kei Nishikori advanced to the quarterfinals of the Brisbane International with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Mikhail Kukushkin on Wednesday in his first competitive outing in Australia ahead of the season's first major.

Nishikori conceded an early break but dominated the remainder of the second-round match to improve to 4-0 in career meetings with Kukushkin. He'll be aiming to reach the semifinals of the season-opening tournament for the fourth straight year with a win over either Bernard Tomic or Radek Stepanek in his next match.

Eighth-seeded Dominic Thiem advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Denis Kudla.

In a women's draw already missing defending champion Maria Sharapova and top-seeded Simona Halep, who both withdrew because of injuries, fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber and fellow German Andrea Petkovic advanced to the quarterfinals with straight sets wins.

Kerber beat Madison Brengle 6-3, 6-0 to set up a meeting with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, while Petkovic had a 7-5, 6-4 win over Ekaterina Makarova to move into a quarterfinal against U.S. qualifier Samantha Crawford, who had an upset 7-5, 7-5 win over seventh-seeded Belinda Bencic.

At the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, Austrian qualifier Tamira Paszek continued her strong run by beating two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova to follow up a victory over former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone in the first round.

Paszek's 6-2, 6-3 win over fourth-seeded Kuznetsova deprived the Auckland tournament of another of its drawcards after the top two seeds, defending champion Venus Williams and Ana Ivanovic, were beaten in the first round.

Former No.1 and third-seeded Caroline Wozniacki is the top player remaining in the main draw.