Kei Nishikori capped off his great week at Japanese Open 2012 in Tokyo with another outstanding performance as he defeated Milos Raonic in the three-set final match.
Sixth seed Raonic had a more than busy semifinal against defending champion Andy Murray yesterday, and could probably not recover in time to pull off another three-set victory in Japanese Open final. On the other hand, eighth seed Japanese Nishikori breezed past Marcos Baghdatis previously and was thirsty for his long overdue second ATP tournament win.
A furious start from the home crowd favorite Nishikori as he made Raonic drop his second serve of the tournament in the game number two, but the Canadian leveled the terms by 3-3. He was tested again at 6-5, yet he avoided another loss of serve by averting two set points. Two more of them followed in the breaker before Raonic sending a backhand shot well wide, allowing the Japanese to finally steal the opener.
The tall Canadian came out stronger for the second set. He hit eight out of his fourteen aces in that part of the game and was putting more pressure on Nishikori’s serve as well. Nevertheless, the 5-foot-10 Japanese held on for the most of the set before eventually getting broken in the eighth game to fall 5-3 behind. He remained persistent though and generated a re-break point before facing a strong Raonic serve he could not control. The return ended up in the net and the score was one set a piece.
No one in the stands could have imagined the runaround 17th-ranked Japanese was giving to his rival in the deciding set. To the joy of the home fans Nishikori found an answer to practically anything Raonic threw at him. The latter was on his knees as his opponent confirmed his second break for a 5-0 lead. Raonic was serving, yet the Japanese was producing championship points in the following game. One last attempt of an attack from the Canadian, but he dumped a forehand volley into the net to finish the tournament with the final set bagel.
Not a bad week for Raonic by any means, yet it was Nishikori who received the Tokyo 2012 crown in the end. The Japanese may have not struck any aces, but has compensated that with everything else he was producing on the hard court of Ariake Coliseum. In the post-match interview he explained his 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-0 final victory on home soil was an amazing and dream-fulfilling experience.