RAKUTEN OPEN 2013
Del Potro Steps Up Final Showdown Bid; Wins Third Title Of Year In Tokyo
by James Buddell|
Juan Martin del Potro moved up to fifth position in the Emirates ATP Race To London on Sunday after he captured the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships title to further boost his chances of qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Top seed and wild card entry del Potro made up for his 2008 runner-up finish by beating last year’s finalist, third seed Milos Raonic, 7-6(5), 7-5 on a sun-kissed day at the Ariake Coliseum, the venue of the ATP World Tour 500 tournament and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Tennis Event.
Nobuo Kuroyanagi, the President of the Japan Tennis Association, presented del Potro with the 16th tour-level trophy of his career (16-6 in finals). He received $312,000 in prize money and earned 500 Emirates ATP Rankings points.
"I played really well in the last two games of the match, returning all of his first serves," said del Potro. "It was a fantastic week for me as I played better and better with each match."
Del Potro avenged his loss to Raonic at the Coupes Roger in August with victory in one hour and 46 minutes. It is his third ATP World Tour 500 tournament title of the season, having won at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (d. Benneteau) and the Citi Open in Washington (d. Isner).
Watch Tokyo Final Highlights
Raonic put pressure on del Potro’s serve in the first set, but could not capitalise on three break point opportunities. Del Potro stood firm in the tie-break bouncing back from a 0-2 deficit to clinch the set in 54 minutes. Raonic had dropped just six of his service points and had not faced a break point.
At 5-5 in the second set, del Potro stepped into the court and won the first three points on Raonic’s serve. Raonic saved two break points, but at 30/40 del Potro locked onto a big first serve and worked his way to the net to strike a forehand winner. Minutes later he had earned his 40th match win of the season.
When asked about returning Raonic's serve, del Potro said, "You have to be focused and wait for the chance. I took his serve in the second to last game to break. In the tie-break, he hit a double fault in the most important part of the match and then my chance came, which I knew I had to take.
"I did what I could to win. When he serves well and hits aces, it means I have to be aggressive on serve. I threw in drop shots and came to the net to mix up my game."
Raonic, 22, who also finished runner-up to Kei Nishikori in the 2012 Tokyo final, saw his eight-match winning streak come to an end. Last week, he won his fifth ATP World Tour title at the Thailand Open in Bangkok (d. Berdych).
"There is not really much to be down about," said Raonic. "I created opportunities and barring a double fault and a few points I could not have done much better."
Although he dropped to 41-18 on the year, Raonic is in 10th position in the battle to qualify for the eight-player season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which will be held at The O2 in London from 4-11 November.
"I think I am doing a lot of things better week in week out," said Raonic. "I can play a good level, but I just need to improve on a consistent basis. There is work to be done."
Raonic, now 5-5 in title matches, picked up $140,700 and 300 Emirates ATP Ranking points.
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