TOKYO (AP) -- Milos Raonic of Canada advanced to the final of the Japan Open on Saturday, beating defending champion Andy Murray 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4).
Raonic, seeded sixth and ranked 15th, will meet the winner of the second semifinal later between local hope Kei Nishikori and unseeded Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus.
Playing under a blazing sun at Ariake Colosseum, the big-hitting Raonic broke the top-seeded Murray in the opening game of the match, then used his strong serve and powerful forehand to go up 5-3, before breaking again to claim the set 6-3.
The Olympic champion looked sluggish from the outset and had to save two break points to hold serve for 1-1 in the second set.
After Raonic held to go up 3-2, a frustrated Murray broke his racket by smashing it on the court..
The were no breaks of serve in the second set, and the contest proceeded to a tiebreak, where Raonic misplayed a volley to give Murray a 6-5 lead and then couldn't handle a Murray forehand that gave him the tiebreak 7-5, squaring the contest.
Murray turned the tide in his favor in the third set by breaking Raonic with a sublime backhand down the line to move ahead 3-1. Murray made it 4-1 on serve and looked to be in control, only to see Raonic break back for 4-3 and then hold for 4-4.
Murray held to go up 5-4 and then had two match points on Raonic's served in the 10th game, but could not capitalize as the Canadian held to send it to another tiebreak.
Raonic took control in the tiebreak and finished it 7-5.
Murray and Raonic had split their two previous career meetings, both this year. Raonic beat Murray on clay at the Barcelona Open, while Murray knocked Raonic out of the U.S. Open in the fourth round.
Raonic has won two tournaments this year, triumphing in Chennai, India, and San Jose, California.