Monfils knocks out Raonic

Milos Raonic lost his semifinal match to Gael Monfils at the Stockhom Open on Saturday, Oct. 22,...

Milos Raonic lost his semifinal match to Gael Monfils at the Stockhom Open on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011. (REUTERS/Fredrik Sandberg)

SPORTS NETWORK

, Last Updated: 12:45 PM ET

STOCKHOLM -- Gael Monfils of France and Finland's Jarkko Nieminen were semifinal winners Saturday and will meet for the title at the Stockholm Open.

The top-seeded Monfils rallied for a 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 6-3 victory over Canadian slugger Milos Raonic after Nieminen eliminated two-time Stockholm champ James Blake of the United States with a 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 6-2 decision.

Raonic came back from a 4-5 deficit in the first-set tiebreak, then broke Monfils for a 2-1 lead in the second set. The 10th-ranked Frenchman broke back for 4-4 and won the next two games to force a decisive set. It was 3-3 in the third when Monfils broke serve again, and he held the rest of the way to advance to the final.

Monfils will appear in his second title match of 2011 and the 15th of his career. He lost to Radek Stepanek at the U.S. Open tuneup in Washington, DC this summer and fell to 3-11 all-time in ATP finals. His last title came last year in Montpellier.

Nieminen's record in finals is not much better with one win in 10 tries. He's been a runner-up at this event twice, losing to Dutchman Sjeng Schalken in 2001 and falling to Blake in 2006.

Saturday marked the fourth Stockholm meeting between Blake and Nieminen. The American had won the first two before the Finn prevailed in a quarterfinal last year.

Nieminen had, in fact, lost his first six career matches against Blake before last year's 6-0, 6-2 win and on Saturday had a more difficult match, but converted five break-point chances against Blake -- the 2005 and 2006 Stockholm champ -- to reach his first final of 2011.

The 30-year-old veteran's lone career ATP title came early in the 2006 season at Auckland. He's lost five straight title matches since, including a setback to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain last September in the Bangkok final.

Monfils beat the 73rd-ranked Nieminen in their first career meeting just three weeks ago in the Bangkok quarterfinals.

The winner of this $730,000 event will collect $135,000.


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