(October 6, 2012) -- Milos Raonic proved he learned his lesson well after his recent straight set defeat in New York at the hands of U.S. Open champion Andy Murray as the Canadian upset Murray to reach the finals of Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo.
(Results: Japan Open semifinals)
Raonic started his semifinal against Murray by breaking the defending champion at love and from there Raonic used his massive serve along with multiple successful forays to the net as maintained his early advantage. Murray had an opening to break Raonic midway into the first set, but Raonic stood his ground and then later broke Murray again to seize the set 6-3.
Raonic, kept up his aggressive play in the second set but Murray rose to the challenge as he saved all three break points against him. The set entered into a tiebreak and it was the Scot who squeezed past Raonic to level the match.
The momentum appeared to be on Murray's side when he ripped a ferocious backhand passing shot to break Raonic for 3-1, the first time Raonic had been broken all week. But up 4-2, Murray played a loose game and handed the break right back. Serving to force a tiebreak, Raonic tossed in several nervy double faults to give Murray his first match point.
Raonic saved the first with a forehand winner and then when he faced another match point a moment later, it was Murray who misfired on a forehand that saved Raonic who eventually served out the game to force a tiebreak.
A frustrated Murray saw his chances slip away when he netted to give Raonic a 6-3 advantage in the breaker. Murray saved one match point, but Raonic finally hit a huge serve Murray couldn't handle to give the Canadian a hard rough 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(4) victory.
“A big thing I changed coming into this week, as that I’m returning a lot closer," Raonic told ATP.com about his new aggressive play. "That took time. A big part of it is mental…and having that instinct and drive to go after it when I have the opportunities to get ahead in the points.”
Raonic will now seek his third title of 2012 after having won in Chennai and San Jose earlier this year.
Nishikori Becomes First Japanese Man to Play in Tokyo Final
Despite the pressure of playing in front of his home crowd, Nishikori wasn't bothered at all by the circumstance or his opponent as Nishikori never faced a break point against him for the entire match. Nishikori needed just over an hour to dismiss Baghdatis 6-2, 6-2.
“It’s an incredible feeling because I’m in a final in my home country,” Nishikori told RakutenOpen.com. “I didn’t think I would be in the final, so I’m very happy. I haven’t won a tournament in four years so hopefully I can win tomorrow.”
Nishikori is now the first Japanese man in the event's history to play in the final and he will seek his second career title having won Delray Beach in 2008.