Andy Murray was stunned by the 21-year-old big-serving Canadian, Milos Raonic, at the Japan Open. The three-set match went to a tiebreaker, and a final score of 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-4).
Murray had dominated Raonic when they met in the fourth round of the US Open, winning in straight sets, but he couldn’t repeat that performance as Raonic never gave him the chance.
This time Raonic started impressively, breaking Murray to love in the opening game. He kept up pressure and maintained consistency, breaking Murray again to take the first set 6-3.
In addition to his powerful serve, Raonic came up with an aggressive returning game, moving adeptly around the court and successfully playing shots at the net.
The second set stayed on serve in what became a thrilling contest. Murray targeted the ball low to challenge his 6’5” competitor, but the Canadian displayed both agility and resilience. At one point Murray’s emotions got the best of him and he smashed his racket, while Raonic remained composed and upbeat.
Murray regained his edge, and when the second set went to a tiebreaker, he won it 7-5 by capitalizing on his opportunities when Raonic missed too many first serves.
In the third set Murray broke Raonic early and it looked like the momentum was on his side and the Scot was finding his game. But later in the set, Raonic broke back and held his nerve and his serve, saving two match points to bring the third set to a tiebreaker.
Raonic won the tiebreaker 7-4, taking the match from the US Open champion.
He now advances to the final where he will play home favorite Kei Nishikori, who beat Marcos Baghdatis in their semifinal in straight sets.
Is this the start of something new for the Canadian?
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