Tokyo - Third
seed Milos Raonic and US Open finalist Kei Nishikori will meet in a
Japan Open final for the second time in three years on Sunday.
Raonic, seeded third, dominated Gilles Simon of France 6-1, 6-4 on
Saturday to reach his third consecutive final in the capital. Nishikori
mounted a comeback as he overhauled Germany's Benjamin Becker 4-6, 6-0,
The 24-year-old was treated for lower back pain during
his Friday quarter-final but has soldiered on to the delight of daily
sellout crowds at the 10 000 capacity Ariake Colosseum.
powered back after losing the first set against Becker, sweeping the
second to love and winning a tiebreaker to prevail after losing a 3-1
break in the final set.
Raonic and Nishikori are both contenders
in the battle to secure places for next month's eight-man ATP World Tour
Finals in London, with Nishikori standing provisional sixth and Raonic
The Canadian lost to Nishikori here two years ago and was beaten a year ago for the title by Argentine Juan Martin del Potro.
Raonic finished off Simon with 11 aces to bring his total for the season past 900.
believe it's the best I have played all week," said the Canadian. "I
executed well and I had a clear vision of what I need to do, so I was
making the right shot selections.
"Gilles can get into a very
comfortable rhythm from the baseline, so it was important to break him
down, be aggressive and come forward to make him feel pressure."
stands 3-1 against Raonic, beating his rival in Madrid and the US Open
this season while losing to the Canadian at Wimbledon.
Raonic is looking forward to the challenge of facing the on-form Asian player.
"Against Kei, it is something to look forward to. A lot of people here want it (victory).
have to execute well and serve well, focusing on myself... It's
something to look forward to and I want to reverse the result in the
final here over the past two years."
Raonic needed just 71 minutes
to advance, breezing through the opening set against the 37th-ranked
Simon in just over half an hour.
But he then had to maintain his
concentration for a further 30 minutes while the roof of the venue was
closed because of drizzle.
The Canadian came out strong in the
second set, breaking for 3-2 from a Simon double-fault, and then
dominated to the end as he advanced on his second match point.
Raonic, winner of the Washington event in August, owns a 32-13 record this season.
is feeling the physical toll from two weeks of intense tennis after
winning the Kuala Lumpur tournament last week in the wake of his
historic New York grand slam performance as the first Asian man to get
to the title match at a major.
"It's not the best situation, but
my back is fine this week. It was a tough win. He started well and I had
to really fight to recover.
"Now there is another difficult match coming up. I'll have to try and recover so I can play my best to try and beat Milos."Results on the sixth day of the Japan Open on Saturday (x denotes seeding):
Milos Raonic (CAN x3) bt Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-1, 6-4
Kei Nishikori (JPN x4) bt Benjamin Becker (GER) 4-6, 6-0, 7-6 (7/2)