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01-24-2018, 12:22 AM
TOKYO -- Canadas Milos Raonic advanced to the semifinals of the Japan Open with his 40th victory of the season Friday. Raonic, seeded third, cruised past Slovakias Lukas Lacko 6-3, 6-3 in just over an hour. The 22-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., once again used a dominant serve to beat his opponent, with 11 aces to only two for Lacko. Raonic said taking the early lead was key following an overnight change in the weather. "I felt I started really well, right from the beginning which allowed me to get into the match and continue from there," said Raonic. The quarter-final was played under the closed roof of the Ariake Coliseum after to a cold front moved in bringing drizzle and chilly temperatures. "I felt like I dealt with the conditions well today," said Raonic. "Confidence is a big part of it and helps you in those adjustments to the difference in conditions. "Despite the weather changes from hot and humid to cold and not so humid the court has remained relatively the same -- fast," he added. "But I just felt that I was aggressive through the match and that paid early dividends." Raonic will next face Croatian Ivan Dodig, who defeated Finlands Jarkko Nieminen 6-2, 7-6 (3). Dodig has won two of the pairs three matches, including a second-round victory over Raonic last June on grass at Eastbourne and a Barcelona win in 2011. A win over Dodig would mark a return for Raonic to the Tokyo final where he lost a year ago to Kei Nishikori. "It will be another tough match against Ivan," said Raonic. "Im focused on what I need to do for the next one." Raonic, ranked 11th in the world, is coming off a win at the Thailand Open on Sunday and improved his season record to 40-17. Hes trying to earn one of the last spots in the World Tour Finals in London next month. Raonic never faced a break point against the 81st-ranked Lacko. The loss to Raonic was Lackos 14th straight against a top-20 opponent. Raonic, who stands 5-0 in quarter-finals this year, has not lost a set this week. He took early control against Lacko with two breaks to earn the first set in 25 minutes. Raonic went up a quick break in the second for a 2-0 advantage, and later closed his match with a service winner. Meanwhile, top-seeded Juan Martin del Potro overcame Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the semifinals. Del Potro broke Dolgopolov twice in the second set and again to go up 3-1 in the third set at Ariake Colosseum. He closed out the match with another break when Dolgopolovs return was long. The Argentine will face sixth-seeded Nicolas Almagro of Spain in the semis on Saturday. Almagro beat local favourite and defending champion Kei Nishikori 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-3. 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"I dont know, standing on the edge of the cliff probably is a better way to describe it." Down 4-1 with only three outs left, the punchless Mets fought back, sparked by Daniel Murphys two-run homer. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said Papelbon was sore and unavailable to pitch in a third straight game. "The daily grind of the season," Papelbon said. "Its just kind of a product of the last couple of games." Lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo and Roberto Hernandez -- who started Friday night -- quickly let the Phillies lead slip away. In the 11th, Chris Young opened with an infield single, barely beating the flip from second baseman Chase Utleys glove. The Mets sent up pitcher Zack Wheeler as a pinch-hitter, and he put down a perfect sacrifice bunt that moved Young to second. Juan Lagares drew an intentional walk and Anthony Recker loaded with the bases with another infield hit stopped by diving third baseman Reid Brignac. Tejada won it with one out, hitting a sharp single to left-centre against Jeff Manship (1-1). Tejadas teammates chased him down in short right field to celebrate. "It feels pretty good after a rough week for me and the team," said Tejada, who recently lost his starting job at shortstop. Scott Rice (1-1) got Brignac on a grounder with two runners on to finish the 11th. Held to a total of nine runs in their previous five games, the Mets began their comeback in the ninth when Eric Young Jr. led off with a double and Murphy followed with a home run that made it 4-3. Chris Young ended his 0-for-18 slump by hitting a one-out double off the wall, and Hernandez emerged from the bullpen -- he threw 99 pitches in the series opener. Pinch-hitter Bobby Abreu sinngled off the glove of a diving Utley, and a slow grounder by Lagares drove in the tying run.dddddddddddd. When Tejada came up in the 11th, he said he had one thought in mind: "Finish the game." The Mets comeback denied Cole Hamels his elusive first win of the year and the 100th of his career. He struck out 10 in seven innings while throwing a whopping 133 pitches, the most by any major leaguer since San Franciscos Tim Lincecum tossed 148 in his no-hitter last July 13. The Mets started quickly when Young Jr. led off with a single and stole second, Murphy walked and David Wright hit an RBI single. NOTES: A day after making his debut, the Mets Eric Campbell singled for his first big league hit. ... Jonathon Niese struck out twice, leaving Mets pitchers 0 for 63 at the plate this year. ... The four-game Subway Series begins Monday night at Yankee Stadium with Mets RHP Bartolo Colon (2-5, 5.36 ERA) facing RHP Hiroki Kuroda (2-3, 4.43). The teams play twice in the Bronx before shifting across town for two more at Citi Field. The Mets went 4-0 against the Yankees last year. ... Lefty-hitting Curtis Granderson didnt start vs. Hamels, but Collins said the outfielder would be in the lineup Monday night. It will be Grandersons first game in the Bronx since leaving the Yankees in the off-season, signing with the Mets and saying: "A lot of the people Ive met in New York have always said that true New Yorkers are Mets fans." ... Several players swung pink bats on Mothers Day to support the fight against breast cancer. In keeping with the days theme, Mets reliever Carlos Torres asked the team to play the hip-hop song "Dear Mama" by the late Tupac Shakur over the PA system if he got into the game Sunday. Torres didnt pitch. ... It was Bark at the Park Day to support pet rescue and adoption. Many fans brought their dogs for a pregame parade around the warning track. Not barking was longtime Mets hot dog vendor Willie B, popular for his loud woofing in the second deck. He said his back was hurting, so he was carrying a lighter tray of pretzels. 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