Kei Nishikori wins the 2012 Rakuten Open!

Hurray! My favorite player finally won his second ATP title in 4 years!

Kei Nishikori at the Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo, Japan, after his 2012 Rakuten Open final match.

Nishikori played extremely well in the finals, especially on the third set. Kei Nishikori faced Milos Raonic of Canada, who recently defeated the no. 1 seed Andy Murray with a score of 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(4), and won 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-0.

Nishikori was defensive at the beginning, and started to get aggressive as the match went on. During the match, Nishikori waited for Raonic to make an unforced error, and it actually worked. Raonic hit a few forehands into the net (especially ones that were shallow and low), but still hit a decent amount of winners throughout the match. What was amazing is that Nishikori hit 0 service aces overall, while Raonic hit 14 in total. Can you believe it? This data proves how good Nishikori is at returning and continuing rallies.

Kei Nishikori holds his 2012 Rakuten Open Trophy infront of fans at the Ariake Colosseum.

Nishikori could of have finished the first set earlier when he was a double match point at 5-6 (15-40), but Nishikori lost one point followed by a return miss, which  made Nishikori lose his chances of taking the set at that point. However, he came back at the tie-break and eventually kept the first set, 7-6(5).

Raonic took the second set (6-3), hitting 3 (or 4) service aces in his first service game. The speed of Raonic’s serve is just out of this world.

In the third set, Nishikori drained Raonic’s stamina and eventually won the set with a bagel, winning the 2012 Rakuten Open Championships.

My favorite points in the video:

  • 1:44 You can see how fast Raonic’s serve is by Nishikori’s reaction. Nishikori wasn’t trying to return the ball, all he could do was hit the ball away from him to prevent his face from being pulverized.
  • 2:35 At 2:41, Nishikori attempts to hit a winner, or a ball that will break Raonic’s balance, but Raonic manages to hit it back with a somewhat deep forehand slice. Nishikori then returns it down-the-line, and a backhand slice shot from Raonic goes to Nishikori’s backhand. Nishikori then goes around the ball to his forehand and attempts to hit a winner (hitting the ball harder than the previous shot), and succeeds.
  • 2:55 Amazing passing shot from Kei Nishikori
  • 3:23 Raonic attempts to hit a winner on Nishikori’s set-point but fails, allowing Nishikori to take the first set. I saw many unforced errors such as these from Raonic throughout the match, especially from his forehand. (Not included in this video.)
  • 3:40 What a great forehand winner from Raonic. But theres no point in hitting such a great shot if you miss most of the other forehands.
  • 4:10 Great return from Raonic.
  • 4:56 Milos Raonic takes the second set, ending it with one of his powerful serves.
  • 5:11 This is were Raonic starts to get tired, both physically and mentally. (Nice return from Nishikori)
  • 5:23 Great passing shot (backhand) from Nishikori.
  • 5:51 Again, Raonic is shocked by this unbelievable unforced error. All he had to do was put the ball into the open part of the court and he could’ve won the point. But he couldn’t.
  • 6:39 Great jumping backhand return from Nishikori.
  • 7:01 Nishikori drops his racket in the middle of play, but Raonic misses the shot. At this point, Raonic is already tired, and mentally stressed.
  • 8:21 Raonic hits a nice serve, but misses the forehand drive-volley on Nishikori’s matchpoint. Game set match, Kei Nishikori.

Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori at the 2012 Rakuten Open | Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/GETTY IMAGESOCTOBER 07, 2012

A person commented on Nishikori’s interview video saying:

he’s now won a set 6-0 against Djokovic in his prime year 2011, Ferrer at the London Olympics soon after Ferrer played that epic close match with Murray at Wimbledon, and now Raonic, the player who’s held his serve the most times of any player. Nishikori is incredible, the bagel master strikes again!


I will have some future expectations from the Dark Horse, Kei Nishikori, and I hope he can win more titles throughout his career.

Congratulations Nishikori!