(October 5, 2012) -- Kei Nishikori's historic run at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo may not be over yet as he earned a semifinal spot over No. 2 seed Tomas Berdych.
With a vocal home crowd urging him on, Nishikori earned 13 break point opportunities in the match and after the Japanese No. 1 took the first set, he went up a break in the second set for 4-3. With some spectacular shotmaking, Nishikori matched Berdych at the baseline while also throwing in several surprise forays to the net. Showing no nerves, Nishikori served out the match to love and earned a 7-5, 6-4 upset victory.
Nishikori becomes the first Japanese man ever to reach the semifinals in Tokyo and he now goes in as a slight favorite against Marcos Baghdatis who took out Dimitry Tursunov 6-2, 6-4. The win was Baghdatis's 30th victory of the year.
Murray and Raonic Face Off in Semis
Defending champion Andy Murray was forced to battle against Stanislas Wawrinka before Murray prevailed to keep his 10-match win streak alive.
Despite being pushed to three sets, Murray converted four out of 11 break point chances and won 80% of his first serves. Those stats helped the Scot earn his 50th victory of the season with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 win.
Awaiting Murray will be Canada's Milos Raonic who was once again forced to play several tiebreaks against No. 3 seed Janko Tipsarevic in a rematch of the Chennai finals from earlier this year.
Neither man could break serve in the opening set that culminated in a tiebreak that saw Raonic jump out to a 4-2 lead, but then with the help of three backhand errors from Raonic ended with Tipsarevic taking the breaker seven points to five.
Raonic fought back by breaking Tipsarevic early in the second set to go up 3-1. That allowed Raonic to go on and claim the set 6-2 forcing a decider.
A tiebreak was needed to decide the final set with Raonic saving one match point with a forehand winner and then eventually closing out the match with his 24th ace 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-6(7).
“I didn’t necessarily serve my best, but I was playing really well from the baseline,” said Raonic afterwards. “I’m happy to get through it. I did quite a few things well. I’m happy I played well on the big points.”
“I think it will be tough. He’s played well this week. Today was a good win for him. When you play a guy with a game like has, it’s always going to be tricky. I’ll try to do what I did in New York," Murray said on facing Raonic who he defeated in straight sets at Flushing Meadows.
|(File Photo: Kei Nishikori at the 2011 Shanghai Masters; Credit: Getty Images)