Milos Raonic (Thornhill, ON) became the first Canadian in 16 years to win an ATP World Tour title on Sunday at the SAP Open in San Jose thanks to an impressive 7-
6 (6), 7-6 (5) straight sets victory over world no. 9 and defending tournament champion, Fernando Verdasco of Spain.
Playing in his first Tour level final, Raonic kept his composure throughout the match despite the enormity of the ocassion and the calibre of his opponent, who was seeking his sixth career title in his 14th finals appearance.
The 20-year-old Canadian erased four set points down 2-6 in the opening set tiebreak to secure the first set and finished off his Cinderella run at 6-5 in the second set tiebreak when Verdasco netted a service return on Raonic’s third match point to bring about one of the most significant moments in Canadian tennis history.
"At this level, if you can go through a week without losing a match, it’s pretty amazing, and it’s something that hasn’t soaked in yet," said Raonic. "I haven’t really grasped yet, but I think it’s going to hit me quick or I’m just not human."
With the victory, Raonic becomes the first Canadian to capture an ATP title since April 1995 when Greg Rusedski was crowned champion in Seoul. At 20 years and one month, Raonic also became the youngest ATP tournament champion since Marin Cilic captured the New Haven title as a 19-year-old in 2008. With 13 aces in the final, he finishes first in that category for the tournament. With his run in San Jose, Raonic collects 250 ranking points and will now be ranked close to or in the Top 60, moving up more than 20 spots from his current ranking of no. 84.
Ironically, Raonic and Verdasco will meet again in a few days as the two have been drawn to play each other in the first round of next week’s Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis, Tennessee, a joint ATP and WTA event. Rebecca Marino (Vancouver, BC), Aleksandra Wozniak (Blainville, QC), Daniel Nestor (Toronto, ON) and Marie-Ève Pelletier (Repentigny, QC) will also be competing in Memphis. Marino and Wozniak will play their first round matches in the women’s singles draw on Monday with Marino, seeded sixth, going up against American Jamie Hampton and Wozniak taking on Anne Keothavong of Great Britain.
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