Milos Raonic knocked off top-seeded Andy Murray to reach the final of the Japan Tennis Open and will meet crowd favorite Kei Nishikori for the title.
The sixth-seeded Raonic saved a pair of match points to earn a 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-4) victory over the defending Tokyo champ in the first match Saturday. He also saved a match point in beating Janko Tipsarevic in the quarterfinals.
Nishikori then became the first Japanese player to reach the final at this event with a 6-2, 6-2 rout of Marcos Baghdatis.
Murray had a 10-match winning streak snapped with Saturday's loss. He was playing for the first time since capturing his first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open last month, the end to a brilliant summer that included a run to the Wimbledon final and a gold medal at the London Olympics.
"From my side, I would have liked to have started the match better," said Murray. "That would have helped me. But he played well behind his serve, especially in the first couple of sets. That made it tough for me."
Raonic broke Murray to start the match and went on to capture the first set, but couldn't finish off the Scottish star in the second-set tiebreaker. Murray opened a 4-1 lead in the third set, but Raonic got the break back. Still, Murray had two chances against Raonic's serve in the 12th game to close it out and failed to convert before the Canadian won it in the tiebreaker.
"Here, from the first match, I've been more aggressive, have come in as much as I can when I've created the opportunities and play under my terms more so than just waiting around," said Raonic.
Raonic beat Murray for the second time in three matches this year and will be trying for his fourth career title on Sunday. He won twice earlier this year, claiming titles in Chennai to start the campaign and in February at San Jose, and owns a career mark of 3-2 in finals.
Nishikori is 1-2 lifetime in title matches, winning his lone tournament in 2008 at Delray Beach.
Raonic and Nishikori have never faced each other before.
Sunday's winner will claim a first prize of $308,000.