Kei Nishikori captured the biggest title of the year upending the powerful Milos Raonic 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-0 to win the Japan Open Tokyo title. Nishikori became the first Japanese player to ever win Tokyo.
“I have not been able to play well in Japan until now, so I always thought perhaps I was not mentally strong enough to do so,” Nishikori said in a translation. “But the match against Berdych, something changed. I was able to play much better yesterday and today as well. On one side of my mind, I cannot believe I won the tournament, but at the same time, I feel that I’m happy I was able to do this.”
In the youngest ATP final this season, Nishikori stayed tough enough to take the first set after holding an early break lead 3-1. Raonic came back in the second, and seemed to have the momentum. But Nishikori was the stronger player in the end, bagelling a tiring Canadian in a third set rout.
“He just played too well. There’s not too much I could do,” said Raonic. “He played better than me and deserved to win. [In the third set], he started playing well, was reading me a bit more, and a few mistakes starting coming from me.”
Raonic, who was seeking to improve his position in qualifying for the year-end London event, had just won consecutive third set breakers over Jankp Tipsarevic and Andy Murray yesterday.
For his second career title the 22-year-old Nishikori received $308,130 in prize money and 500 Ranking points, while 21-year-old Raonic earned $138,920 and 300 points.
Nishikori is expected to move to a career-high No. 15 in the new ATP Rankings.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
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