Milos Raonic became the hero of the day in Tokyo after defeating Andy Murray in a nail-biting Japanese Open semifinal drama. He will play for his fourth ATP trophy against Kei Nishikori.
Another class act from sixth seed Canadian Raonic at Japanese Open, this time his victim was no other than US Open 2012 and Olympic winner Murray. There was no time for the top seed British player to settle into the match as he was broken to love in the opening game. A precious, yet unconverted re-break opportunity for Murray in the sixth game was his last chance to get something out of the set. Instead, he gave away a second serve in the closing game.
A head-to-head race in the set number two with none of the players being able to break the deadlock, so the breaker was required to tell them apart. No mini-break gifts occurred until Murray’s set point at 6-5. Raonic could not handle the pressure and the players were tied at one set each. A stage for the nerve-shredding thriller in the decider was thus set.
Raonic fans shook their heads in dismay as the tall Canadian gave away his first serve of the tournament and allowed Murray to move 4-1 up, yet this was not the final twist in the plot by any means. Raonic pegged back to make it 4-4 before escaping two match-point scares at 6-5 for Murray. Coming back from the edge of the abyss, Raonic’s appetite for victory returned too and he found himself on the verge of success with a triple match point and two serves at 6-3 in the breaker. Murray responded to the first one, but Raonic unleashed a powerful serve next and his rival’s return landed behind the baseline. An amazing 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4) victory for the Canadian who said – in the post-match statement – that he was looking forward to the opportunity of playing the Japanese Open final.
In the other semis, Kei Nishikori booked his final place after defeating Marcos Baghdatis in straight sets 6-2 6-2.