Japan Open: Kei Nishikori beats Milos Raonic in Tokyo final
Last Updated: 07/10/12 3:26pm
Kei Nishikori: saw off Milos Raonic in two hours and eight minutes
Kei Nishikori became the first home winner of the Japan Open with a 7-6 (7/5) 3-6 6-0 victory over Milos Raonic in the final.
Nishikori, the eighth seed, sealed the opening set tie-break with a running backhand pass, celebrating with a clenched fist in front of a sellout 13,000 crowd in Tokyo.
Raonic hit back in the second set, the sixth seed - who beat US Open champion Andy Murray in his semi-final - produced some trademark big serving on the way to levelling the match.
But Nishikori dominated the decider, ripping another fierce backhand pass down the line to open a 4-0 lead.
And he closed out a final-set 'bagel' shortly afterwards when a lofted return forcing Raonic to smash a drive volley into the net, ending the contest after two hours and eight minutes.
Nishikori, whose only previous ATP Tour title came at Delray Beach in 2008, will rise two places to 15th in the world rankings thanks to his exploits this week.
"It's absolutely unbelievable to win in Japan," said Nishikori. "To win an ATP 500 event will give me more confidence in the future.
"I'd never played well in Japan but since beating (second seed) Tomas Berdych (in the quarter-finals), I felt I'd broken that wall down. To reach the top 10 is my target now."
Roanic, who hit 14 aces and will move up to 14th in the world rankings, said: "Kei is a superstar in Japan.
"I don't think I had a letdown after beating Murray. Kei is so quick and he was reading my serves well, which doesn't usually happen. I love coming to Japan and thanks Japan for inventing sushi. I love it."