Many of us, myself included, have been touting Milos Raonic for quite a while. And the big Canadian may have finally delivered a big, signature win. Earlier this morning Raonic saved two matchpoints to turn away Andy Murray 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(4) to reach the Tokyo final.
Raonic has beaten big names before, including Murray, and he’s won titles. But this may have been his best single match win, beating an in-form, defending champion and Grand Slam winner in Murray.
After the two split sets Murray broke Milos en route to a seemingly insurmountable 4-1 lead in the fourth. Raonic shook off his first dropped serve of the tournament and roared back, later overcoming a bunch of untimely double faults to close out Murray in a thriller.
“From the first match, I’ve been more aggressive, have come in as much as I can when I’ve created the opportunities and play under my terms more so than just waiting around,” said Raonic. “A big thing I changed coming into this week, as that I’m returning a lot closer. That took time. A big part of it is mental, preparing for that and having that instinct and drive to go after it when have the opportunities to get ahead in the points.”
Murray, who had won Tokyo last year, suffered just his second loss since Wimbledon.
“From my side, I would have liked to have started the match better. That would have helped me,” Murray said. “But he played well behind his serve, especially in the first couple of sets. That made it tough for me.”
Murray will now pack his bags and head to Shanghai. With his No. 1 hopes fleeting he’ll have to put up a very big result in China to stay in the race.
After consecutive third set tiebreak wins over Top 10ers Tipsarevic and now Murray, the 21-year-old Raonic moves on to face fellow young gun Kei Nishikori. The local favorite dispatched Marcos Baghdatis 6-2, 6-2.
“It’s an incredible feeling because I’m in a final in my home country,” Nishikori said. “I didn’t think I would be in the final, so I’m very happy. I haven’t won a tournament in four years so hopefully I can win tomorrow.”
If Roanic plays like he has been he should be able to overpower Nishikori.
In Beijing, top seed Novak Djokovic took care of business ousting Florian Mayer 6-1, 6-4. He’ll meet JW Tsonga in a good final Sunday.
“He’s been playing really well,” said Djokovic of Tsonga. “There’s no secrets between each other, between us. I mean, we played many times, played a lot of important matches on the big stage. He’s a very powerful player, big serve, big forehand, and if that works, he can win against anybody on any surface, to be honest. So there is no clear favorite, I think, in tomorrow’s match. We have both been winning quite comfortably. It’s going to be a good final hopefully for the tournament.”
Tsonga got through when Feliciano Lopez retired with a left wrist injury down 6-1, 4-1.
The women’s final is set, and it’s a noisy as the top two players in the world, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, clash with the winner gaining the inside track to the year-end WTA No. 1 ranking.
“I came into this tournament not playing extremely well in Tokyo, and I had a couple of days of practice here,” Sharapova said. “I really wanted to do well and get to the final stage of this tournament, because I hadn’t been to the finals here. I’d played a few times, and skipped last year because I was injured.”
Azarenka has won six of 10 meetings with the Russian and three of four this year including the Australian Open final and the US Open semifinals.
“I feel like it’s a great opportunity for me,” Azarenka said. “To play against her and also for the fans to watch.”
The will be on Tennis Channel tonight. Raonic’s match at 1am ET. Djokovic’s Beijing final is at 4am ET but will air on tape Sunday morning.
SUNDAY BEIJING SCHEDULE
NATIONAL TENNIS STADIUM start 1:00 pm
 B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs [Alt] C Berlocq (ARG) / D Istomin (UZB) – ATP
Not Before 4:00 PM
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs  J Tsonga (FRA) – ATP
Not Before 7:30 PM
 V Azarenka (BLR) vs  M Sharapova (RUS) – WTA
SUNDAY TOKYO SCHEDULE
CENTRE COURT start 12:00 noon
 L Paes (IND) / R Stepanek (CZE) vs  A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA)
Not Before 2:00 PM
 M Raonic (CAN) vs  K Nishikori (JPN)
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