Canada’s Milos Raonic is heading to his first ATP Tour final in over two years.
Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., beat No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 7-6 (5), 6-3 in the semi-finals of the Western & Southern Open on Friday.
Raonic, ranked 30th in the world, will Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the final after the tour’s top-ranked payer beat No. 8 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (0) in the second semi-final.
“I’m playing well,” Raonic said. “I think I’m moving much better than I have in recent years and I think that’s putting me in better positions so I’m able to be more effective, I’m able to be aggressive earlier and I’m able to play more on my terms quicker in the points.”
Raonic is 0-10 versus Djokovic in his career.
The Canadian’s most recent final appearance was in Stuttgart, Germany in June 2018. Raonic, 29, has won eight career titles, most recently in January 2016 in Brisbane, Australia.
It will mark the fourth Masters 1000 final – the highest level on tour below Grand Slams – of Raonic’s career. He is 0-3 in his previous appearances.
The win Friday will push Raonic into the top-20 of the rankings next week. He’ll be 18th if he loses the final and 13th if he wins.
Raonic, who has been hampered by injuries in recent years, has said the five-month break during the COVID-19 pandemic allowed him to have three six-week training blocks.
“I had the freedom to train and really focus on specific things,” he said.
Raonic saved a set point trailing 6-5 on serve in the first set before winning the tiebreak with a couple of forehand winners.
The hard-serving Raonic won 90 per cent of his points on first serve.
Normally held in Cincinnati, the Western & Southern Open has been moved to New York this year during the pandemic. It is being held on the grounds of the U.S. Open, which starts Monday. No fans will be in attendance at either tournament.
“Having won a bunch of matches this week, I don’t think there’s a better way to be preparing [for the U.S. Open],” Raonic said. “I definitely can’t complain about anything that’s going on in terms of my tennis right now.”
The Western & Southern Open is the first men’s tournament since the pandemic started in March.
With files from The Associated Press.