RAKUTEN OPEN 2013
In-Form Raonic Fires Into Tokyo Final; Improves London Hopes
by ATP Staff|
Milos Raonic continued to make up ground on the Top 8 in the Emirates ATP Race To London after he extended his winning streak to eight matches on Saturday by reaching the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships final.
Should Raonic win the Tokyo title he will rise to within 90 points of Stanislas Wawrinka, who is in eighth position in the battle for one of five remaining spots at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have already qualified for the event, which will be held at The O2 in London from 4-11 November.
The third seed defeated Ivan Dodig of Croatia 7-6(4), 6-1 in 84 minutes to advance to his fourth championship match of the year (2-1 finals record).
Raonic has already won two ATP World Tour titles at the SAP Open in San Jose and at last week’s Thailand Open in Bangkok (d. Berdych). On Sunday, he will face top seed and 2008 runner-up Juan Martin del Potro for the Tokyo crown.
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Points against the serve were few and rallies were short as both semi-finalists attempted to establish themselves in their second FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting of the year. Dodig recovered from 0/30 at 3-3, which proved to be the only half chance Raonic had of breaking, while the Canadian was taken to deuce in the 10th game.
In a clash between two strong servers, a tie-break was inevitable. Dodig capitalised on early errors from Raonic to open up a 3-1 lead but he got pegged back. At 4-4, Raonic fired a backhand crosscourt pass. The winner spurred him on and he clinched the set with an ace – his fifth straight point.
Raonic, contesting his fifth semi-final of the year, grew in confidence and broke Dodig to 15 for a 3-1 lead in the second set and again two games later. By breezing through the set, victory ensured that the 22 year old has risen to No. 10 in the Emirates ATP Race To London.
Raonic, who saved one break point in the third game of the second set, struck 12 aces and lost four of his first service points. He has hit 64 aces and won all 40 of his service games in four matches at the ATP World Tour 500 tournament.
Three of his matches have been contested under a closed roof at the Ariake Coliseum, due to rain.