Tokyo: Kei Nishikori became the Japan Open`s first home champion here Sunday with a gritty three-set win over big-serving Milos Raonic.
The eighth seed took the first set 7-6 before dropping the second 3-6 but running away with the decider 6-0, sending the home crowd into raptures with his second career title.
"On one side of my mind, I cannot believe I won the tournament, but at the same time, I feel that I am happy I was able to do this," the 22-year-old Nishikori told the tournament website after collecting the $300,000 prize money.
"I have not been able to play well in Japan until now, so I always thought perhaps I was not mentally strong enough to do so," added Nishikori, who will rise two places to 15th in the world rankings as a result of the victory.
That is the spot occupied by the 21-year-old Canadian Raonic, who had upset US Open champion Andy Murray in the semi-finals.