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
Former Top 5 James Blake won the Sacramento Challenger beating Mischa Zverev in the final… Among the wounded and not playing in Shanghai: Juan Martin Del Potro (wrist), Mardy Fish (heart), Rafael Nadal (knee), David Ferrer (leg), Gael Monfils (knee), Juliean Benneteau (arm), Marcel Granollers (ab)… How cool is Roger Federer? Death threats don’t even rattle the Swiss. “Obviously maybe it’s a little bit of a distraction, there’s no doubt about it,” Federer said of the threat. “But you have to be aware of what’s happening around you.” Yeah, just a little distraction… Roger Federer will begin his 299th week at No. 1 on Monday, but it could be his last week at the top spot as Novak Djokovic can overtake him at Shanghai…After winning Beijing, Mike Bryan now has a record 84 career ATP doubles titles, eclipsing the previous record of 83 held by Todd Woodbridge. Brother Bob is just two behind at 82. Mike is closing on the halfway mark to Martina Navratilova’s ridiculous 177!… Since losing to Roger Federer at the Olympics, Andy Murray has only lost two matches, to Milos Raonic and who else? Remember Jeremy Chardy at Cincinnati?… With Rafael Nadal unlikely to play, the ATP Finals last spot will go to the ninth ranked player… Speaking of memory, remember when Kei Nishikori had his “Project 45” campaign, the goal being reach the Top 45 in the rankings? He’ll be Top 15 tomorrow… What a day to be UNIQLO as both spokesmen of the Japanese clothing sponsor, Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori, won titles Sunday in Asia… Should Victoria Azarenka win WTA’s Player of the Year award over Serena Williams? Discuss… Former NBA great Allen Iverson was on hand for the on court coin toss ceremony of the Victoria Azarenka-Maria Sharapova final in Beijing. Odd… Novak Djokovic has won 14 straight matches and 3 titles in Beijing… The last 16 Masters 1000 events has been won by the Big Four (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray)… What is up with Nicolas Massu reaching the semifinals at the Quito Challenger? The Chilean is still going strong at 32… After a losing effort, Milos Raonic disclosed how to properly celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving, via a tweet: “Happy Thanksgiving Canada! I stuffed myself with sushi. Off to Shanghai tomorrow morning!”
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