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Rediff.com  » Sports » Murray beats Raonic, to play Cilic in Cincinnati final

Murray beats Raonic, to play Cilic in Cincinnati final

August 21, 2016 11:34 IST

Andy Murray returns a shot against Milos Raonic in the semi-finals of the Western and Southern tennis tournament at Linder Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio on Saturday

IMAGE: Andy Murray returns a shot against Milos Raonic in the semi-finals of the Western and Southern tennis tournament at Linder Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio on Saturday. Photograph: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Sizzling hot Andy Murray roared into his seventh successive final with a commanding victory over Canadian Milos Raonic at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Saturday.

Olympic champion Murray, who beat Raonic in the Wimbledon final, notched his career-best 22nd consecutive win by blunting the fourth-seeded Canadian's intimidating service game in a 6-3 6-3 semi-final victory.

Top seed Murray, gearing up for the U.S. Open in nine days, the last grand slam of the year, will face 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia in the final.

Cilic overcame Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 4-6 6-3 7-5, coming back twice from a break down in the third set in a match that ended past 1:30 AM ET (0530 GMT) following a two-hour rain delay after play was stopped in the second game.

Murray has won 11 of 13 matches against 12th seed Cilic.

Heavy rain also fell just before the scheduled start of the Murray-Raonic semi-final and then four points into it there was a delay for several minutes due to some heavy misting.

Raonic seemed off rhythm from the start, double-faulting twice as the Scot registered a break in the opening game.

Two-times Cincinnati winner Murray, playing with energy and excellence from sideline to sideline, broke Raonic again in the ninth game to close out the first set.

The second set went on serve until the eighth game, when Raonic committed another double fault, elected not to volley a lob that fell well within the baseline and netted a forehand on break point, one of his 31 unforced errors.

Murray had a touch of trouble closing out the match as he mis-hit a couple of shots and a light drizzle held up play again for a few minutes before the Briton executed a splendid drop volley to end it on his third match point.

Kerber in Cincy final, one win from top spot

Angelique Kerber returns a shot against Simona Halep in the semi-finals of the Western and Southern tennis tournament at Linder Family Tennis Center

IMAGE: Angelique Kerber returns a shot against Simona Halep in the semi-finals of the Western and Southern tennis tournament at Linder Family Tennis Center. Photograph: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber cooled off red-hot Simona Halep in straight sets on Saturday to reach the final of the Southern & Western Open in Cincinnati and move one win away from taking over as world number one.

Second seed Kerber beat the third-seeded Romanian, winner of 13 successive matches, 6-3, 6-4 to set up a Sunday final against Karolina Pliskova.

The German needs to beat Pliskova to end Serena Williams's 183 successive weeks as world number one.

The American is three weeks short of Steffi Graf's all-time record, but the 28-year-old German can make her own history with a win on Sunday.

"I have still, one match to go," said left-hander Kerber, fresh off winning the Olympic silver and the Wimbledon runner-up to Williams last month.

"I would not think about this the whole week. Everybody's asking me about that. If it happens, it will be amazing, but still I have to focus on the next match against a real tough opponent, Pliskova."

The big-serving Pliskova, the 17th-seeded Czech, swept past French Open champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain in a dominant performance, winning 6-1 6-3 in the earlier semi-final.

Kerber leads her head-to-head against Pliskova 4-2, with the Czech's last win coming in last year's semi-finals in Sydney.

Kerber was locked in a tight first set in breezy conditions against Halep when rain forced a 30-minute delay.

Once they resumed, with Halep serving at 3-4, the Romanian was ice-cold, particularly off the backhand, and Kerber dominated.

The German broke Halep when a backhand sailed wide, held serve to finish the first set, then swept to a 4-0 lead in the second.

Halep, with her back to the wall, cut loose and began finding her range with aggressive swings from both wings and won the next three games.

The Romanian was within a point of taking the 10th game to deuce in her quest to bring the set back on serve, when Kerber broke a string on her racquet and a startled Halep mis-hit her backhand return wide to end the match.

Pliskova, who has won five WTA titles, was in full command in her semi-final, belting 17 winners and five aces.

She needed just an hour to clinch victory.

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