Milos Raonic has been a survivor thus far at the Japanese Open.
After saving a match point in his quarter-final victory over Janko Tipsarevic, Raonic once again was victorious in a third-set tiebreak versus Andy Murray late Friday night.
LIVE COVERAGE OF JAPAN OPEN FINAL: Sportsnet ONE will carry the Japan Open final Sunday morning at 1 AM/ET. Also, the replay of Saturday’s semi-final between Raonic and Murray can be seen today at noon ET.
The Thornhill native credits a more assertive approach to his success so far in Tokyo.
"Here, 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 [myself] for that and having that instinct and drive to go after it when [I] have the opportunities to get ahead in the points."
The win over Murray not only avenges a fourth-round loss at the US Open, but has given Raonic a chance to climb into the South African Airways ATP Rankings Top 10 if he can manage to win the final tonight.
Raonic’s opponent will be the top player in Japan, Kei Nishikori. The No. 17 player in the world will enjoy a massive advantage playing in his home country but will be under more pressure to produce a result as he hasn’t won an ATP Tour event since Delray Beach in 2008.
"It’s an incredible feeling because I’m in a final in my home country," Nishikori told RakutenOpen.com. "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."