Naomi Osaka into W&S final after calling for racial justice, Raonic wins semis match

Naomi Osaka sparked the break in the tournament by announcing she would drop out of the tournament rather than play a semifinal match against Elise Mertens. Osaka chose to keep playing after the unified one-day show of support.

World No. 10 on women's side sports Black Lives Matter shirt on way to court

Naomi Osaka sports a Black Lives Matter shirt as she makes her way to the court for her semifinal match against Elise Mertens on Friday. (Getty Images)

Canada's Milos Raonic is heading to his first ATP Tour final in over two years.

Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., beat No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 7-6 (5), 6-3 in the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open on Friday.

Raonic, ranked 30th in the world, will play Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the final after the tour's top-ranked payer beat No. 8 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (0) in the second semifinal.

"I'm playing well," Raonic said. "I think I'm moving much better than I have in recent years and I think that's putting me in better positions so I'm able to be more effective, I'm able to be aggressive earlier and I'm able to play more on my terms quicker in the points."

WATCH | Milos Raonic advances to final:

Raonic reaches Western & Southern Open final

1 year ago
Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., advanced to his fourth-career ATP Masters 1000 final with a 7-6 (5), 6-3 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Western & Southern Open. 1:29

Raonic is 0-10 versus Djokovic in his career.

The Canadian's most recent final appearance was in Stuttgart, Germany in June 2018.

Raonic, 29, has won eight career titles, most recently in January 2016 in Brisbane, Australia.

The win Friday will push Raonic into the top-20 of the rankings next week. He'll be 18th if he loses the final and 13th if he wins.

Normally held in Cincinnati, the Western & Southern Open has been moved to New York this year during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is being held on the grounds of the U.S. Open, which starts Monday. No fans will be in attendance at either tournament.

The Western & Southern Open is the first men's tournament since the pandemic started in March.

Osaka sparks break in action

Earlier, Naomi Osaka overcame a faulty serve and reached the women's final following a one-day break in the tournament prompted by her call for racial justice.

Osaka, the only Top-10 player left in the women's bracket, sparked the break by announcing she would drop out of the tournament rather than play a semifinal match against Elise Mertens. Osaka chose to keep playing after the unified one-day show of support.

How would she handle the emotions of the last few days? She was up to the moment.

She struggled with her serve — her toss was repeatedly off the mark — but gritted out a 6-2, 7-6 (5) victory to reach her first Western & Southern title match.

WATCH | Osaka wins:

Osaka advances to final of Western & Southern Open after 1-day pause of play

1 year ago
After nearly dropping out of the tournament, before the WTA decided on a one-day pause of play to take a stance against racial injustice, Naomi Osaka advanced to the final of the Western & Southern Open with a 6-2, 7-6 (5) win over Elise Mertens. 0:34

Osaka's tweet Wednesday night that as a Black woman she's exhausted and "sick to my stomach" over the many Black people killed by police drew quick support from other players and resulted in tennis joining other sports in calling off play temporarily. Osaka didn't practise on the off day.

Osaka, a two-time Grand Slam champion, held serve to open her match against 14th-seeded Mertens, and then broke for a 2-0 lead that set the tone. Osaka surged ahead 5-1.

Even though her serve was inconsistent — she made only half of them — the fourth-seeded Osaka fought off 18-of-21 break points while gritting it out.

WATCH | Naomi Osaka continues call for social reform: 

Naomi Osaka walks onto court wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt

1 year ago
After tournament officials invoked a one-day break, in a show of support for Osaka's vow to withdraw from the Western & Southern Open to highlight racial injustice, Osaka walked to the court for her semifinal match wearing a Black Lives matter shirt. 0:43

Osaka grabbed her left hamstring after chasing a ball during the tiebreaker, but completed the match without pause. Osaka won the 2018 U.S. Open and will be coming off a successful week — in many ways — heading into this one.

Osaka will face resurgent Victoria Azarenka, who beat Johanna Konta 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 to reach the Western & Southern final for the first time since 2013, when she beat Serena Williams.

The 31-year-old Azarenka considered retiring at the start of the year. She lost in the first round at Monterrey and to Venus Williams at Lexington last week.

Azarenka, ranked No. 59, smiled throughout her semifinal and raised her index finger after finishing it off. She has lost only one set this week.

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