tennis 1 week ago

Goffin through to 2nd straight Japan Open final

The Associated Press — By DAVID HULMES - Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — David Goffin reached a second straight Japan Open final and will meet Adrian Mannarino, who beat top-seeded Marin Cilic on Saturday.

Goffin won a tense baseline battle with Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (3), 7-6 (6), while Mannarino won 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-0 in his first career win against a top-five opponent.

A Schwartzman double fault at 6-6 in the second-set tiebreaker gifted Goffin a chance to serve for the match, which he converted.

With no breaks in the first set, Goffin took the initiative in the fifth game of the second. He served for the match at 5-4 — only for Schwartzman to break back.

Goffin also held the upper hand in the tiebreaker at 3-2, before Schwartzman broke back two points later.

The victory extends Goffin's winning streak to eight matches, including four in Shenzhen last week where he won his first title in more than three years.

"When you've won a lot of matches you know how to play the important moment — you have a great feeling on court, confidence," Goffin said. "You know what you have to do, when to go for the shots or when to play solid. It's really clear in your head, and you trust in your hands."

The Belgian now stands at No. 10 in the Race to London rankings. With the injured Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka ruled out, 10th place is good enough to secure a place at the end-of-season showpiece.

Cilic trailed 3-0 in the first-set tiebreaker before clawing his way back into contention. He broke to go 6-5 ahead with a backhand half-volley dropshot, then served out with an ace down the middle.

Mannarino served at 5-3 in the second set but failed to hold his nerve before breaking to love, and forcing a decider in which Cilic folded spectacularly.

"I don't know if he served worse or I returned better but it changed a lot from the middle of the second set — then I was dangerous in every service game of Marin's," Mannarino said.

Cilic said "we played a lot of long rallies and he was playing really well from the back. In the last set and a half he didn't miss much."

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