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Raonic Back In Memphis Final; Melzer Advances Past Stepanek

Memphis, U.S.A.

Raonic© Memphis Tennis/R. AngleMilos Raonic recorded his ninth straight win Saturday in Memphis.

No. 4 seed Milos Raonic progressed to the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships final for the second consecutive year, defeating Benjamin Becker 6-4, 6-4 in Memphis Saturday to win his ninth match in a row. "I feel like I'm not stalling at any point," said Raonic. "I'm constantly getting better throughout the matches. That's very encouraging. It's something fun to build off of."

Raonic took 29 of his 31 first serve points, firing 14 aces. He capitalised on both of his break point chances to advance in 75 minutes. "I felt in the beginning, he started well, especially serving. But I was able to get close in the games, and that put a little pressue on him," assessed Raonic.

"It was really good that I kept it going at the start of the second set, because after that, he started to play better. For a little bit in the second set, I was waiting for too many mistakes from him. He picked it up and I was playing a little too predictable for a bit. I gave myself a chance at the end of the second set and played a good return game. I felt the key was my serve in my service games."

The Canadian has won 19 straight sets since falling to Lleyton Hewitt in the third round of the Australian Open. Raonic is 15-1 on the season and will look to add to the hardware he picked up in January at the Aircel Chennai Open (d. Tipsarevic), and last weekend at the SAP Open (d. Istomin) when he takes on Jurgen Melzer on Sunday. He is bidding to go one step further this year, having lost to Andy Roddick in last year's final.

Read 'Raonic Riding Rocket Serve' In RICOH ATP MatchFacts

Melzer continued his run with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over third seed Radek Stepanek to reach his first final of the season. "I've played a great tournament thus far," Melzer said. "Reaching a final is something special. I haven't played a final since 2010."

After splitting sets, the Austrian broke the 2009 runner-up to begin the third set. Though he relinquished the break advantage, Melzer converted his third break of the match to move ahead 4-2, and held his nerve to close out the semi-final in two hours and two minutes, improving to 2-0 against the Czech. "It was a tough match today. He's a tricky player as he knows what to do on the court," said Melzer.

"He's offensive at times, and then pulls back the speed of his strokes. I had to stay focused, I had to play my game. I felt when the ball was in play, and I kept spin on my shots, I had a better chance of winning the point. It wasn't as good as yesterday, but you cannot expect that every time." 

The victory marked Melzer's third three-set win this week, having topped Denis Istomin and Ivan Dodig in final set tie-breaks earlier in the tournament, before upsetting No. 1 seed John Isner in the quarter-finals on Friday. He is aiming to win his first title since successfully defending his crown in Vienna two years ago. The World No. 38 has a 3-7 final record, and is seeking his first trophy in four title match attempts on US soil.

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©Erika Tanaka

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