Defending champion Andy Murray out of Japan Open after losing semi-final to Miles Raonic
Defending champion Andy Murray is out of the Japan Open after losing his semi-final to Miles Raonic.
Last Updated: 07/10/12 12:34pm
The Scot seemed on course for a comeback victory when he took a 4-1 lead in the decider but Raonic recovered, saving two match points en route to inflicting a first defeat on Murray since his US Open triumph.
Murray had predicted this match would prove far tougher than his straight-sets win over the Canadian in the last 16 at Flushing Meadows and how right he was, his serve broken in the opening game and again to concede the first set.
He saved a break point early in the second set, and then another as his game finally came alive in the tie-break, a cross-court backhand leaving Raonic flustered.
Murray appeared to have wrestled back the momentum when he raced through the opening stages of the final set but Raonic, displaying the confidence of a man ranked a career-high 15 in the world - was not finished and broke back in game seven.
The 21-year-old had to serve to stay in the match but held his nerve then, despite a double-fault twice threatening defeat, and edged 4-3 ahead in the tie-break, victory secured at the second attempt.
Murray was visibly frustrated throughout the match, with a couple of racquet throws and plenty of angry outbursts aimed at trying to get himself into top gear.
But instead it is Raonic who moves into the final to face local favourite Kei Nishikori, who became the first Japanese player to reach the showdown after thrashing Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 6-2 6-2 in just 61 minutes.
Reflecting on the loss, Murray said: "The first set was poor from my side. He started the match well and I was slow to get off the mark. There was always going to be a bit of residue from the last few months.
"He played well behind his first serve and that made it tough for me.
"I played better in the second and third sets but it was a disappointment not to close out the match. It came down to one or two points in the end."