Sunday, October 7, 2012

Nishikori wins Japan Open title

Nishikori wins Japan Open title

Kei Nishikori defeated Milos Raonic 7-6 3-6 6-0 to win the 2012 Japan Open title.

Nishikori took the first set tiebreak 7-5 but then Raonic took the second, drilling a bullet serve at Nishikori's body.

However, Nishikori stormed back in the decider, taking a 4-0 lead, leaving his Canadian opponent gaping in disbelief.

After two hours and eight minutes of play Kei completed a final set 'bagel' to claim the title.

"I'm partying tonight," Nishikori said. "I'd thought the Gods were against me at this event in the past. To win the title is amazing. I'm overwhelmed.

"I don't know what I'm going to do with a year's worth of Corona beer," added Nishikori, sheepishly referring to a bonus gift from tournament sponsors. "I don't even like beer."

“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.”

“He attacks on his returns and goes up to the net quickly. And he is willing to take risks. I watched him play Murray,” said Nishikori. “Despite the break in the first game, there were some dangerous moments in the first set. I tried to stay aggressive. I was able to continue doing so and was able to get the final set 6-love.”

"Kei is a superstar in Japan," said Raonic. "Thank you Japan for your support," added Raonic. "And thank you for inventing sushi. I love it."

"Kei is a terrific player who is already a star at home in Japan and among the Top 20 players in the world. I’m sure this historic win over a very difficult field in Tokyo will give him great confidence and we look forward to seeing all that he can do. Kei has a very bright future on the ATP World Tour and we couldn’t be more proud of him."

“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.”

AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama