Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina in action during his men’s singles final match against Milos Raonic of Canada
Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro claimed the Rakuten Japan Open title beating Canada’s Milos Raonic in the final 7-6(5), 7-5 to claim his third ATP 500 event title of the year and 16th tour title of his career overall. The Argentine had finished second here once before in 2008.
The match saw some high-quality shot-making from both players and with both players boasting a big serve, there was just one break of serve in the entire match.
It was Raonic who applied the pressure in the first set, but he could not capitalize on the three break-point chances that came his way. Raonic meanwhile was holding firm on his own serve; going into the tie-break he had only dropped six points on serve and not faced a single break-point.
The first set then went to a tie-break where the dominance on serve continued. But Raonic made a costly double fault to hand Del Potro the advantage which helped him take the first set.
The second set continued in the same vein as the first, but not for a lack of enterprising tennis from either player. Del Potro though got the crucial break of serve in the 11th game of the set where he jumped out to a 0-40 lead with some great returns of serve and booming forehands.
Raonic managed to save a couple of them, but Del Potro managed to convert on the third opportunity and after the break came out to serve for the match.
He did so comfortably fittingly producing a ripping forehand passing shot past the towering Raonic at the net.
The win was Del Potro’s first ever win in Asia on the ATP Tour. The Argentine was the top-ranked player at the event after Britain’s Andy Murray withdrew from the tournament.
For Raonic, who was looking for back-to-back tournament wins after taking the title in Thailand last week, it was a second successive runner-up finish at the Japan Open, after he lost out to local hero Kei Nishikori in the final last year.
With the win Del Potro has now moved into fifth place in the Emirates ATP Race to London to boost his chances of qualifying for the year-end showpiece event.
Raonic remains in 10th place in the race and is still in contention to claim the final few spots remaining for London.