Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hard-serving Raonic reaches second straight Japan final

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TOKYO -- Canada's Milos Raonic moved closer to a possible place in the ATP season-ending event as he reached a second straight final at the Japan Open on Saturday with a 7-6 (4), 6-1 semifinal win over Croatian Ivan Dodig.

But the 22-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., is trying to keep it all in perspective as he improves one spot to provisional 10th in the race to the eight-man World Tour Finals set for London in just over a month.

No Canadian has ever played the elite tournament in singles, though Toronto's Daniel Nestor has made multiple appearances at year-enders in doubles.

"London is still far away for me," said Raonic, winner of his last eight matches in Asia and the champion last weekend in Bangkok. "I don't have any issues thinking about it.

"I'm playing well but I have a long way to go to possibly qualify. I need to keep giving myself chances to try and make it. But I'm not letting it get into my head.

"I'm just concentrating on each match, I've been playing well and I want to keep that up. I know what I have to do to keep on winning these matches, that's what I want to concentrate on right now."

Raonic, seeded third, will play for the title today at the Ariake Colosseum against Juan Martin del Potro, who defeated Nicolas Almagro in Saturday's other semifinal.

Raonic lost the Tokyo final a year ago to Japan's Kei Nishikori, who went out this year in the quarter-finals to Almagro while complaining of back pain.

Saturday's match marked Raonic's fifth time playing in a semifinal this season, and he has won four of them. He has held serve in 79 of 81 games during his Asian run.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 6, 2013 B16

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