Big-serving Milos Raonic enhanced his reputation as one of the hottest young stars in men’s tennis when he won the ATP Chennai Open title on Sunday in a nail-biting encounter.
The 21-year-old Canadian overcame world No. 9 and top seed Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/4).
The 1.96m-tall Raonic blasted 35 aces against Tipsarevic’s eight to win only his second career title after a rousing final that lasted 3 hours, 13 minutes.
Raonic earned US$71,000 and 250 ranking points, while Tipsarevic got US$37,860 and 150 points ahead of the season’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open, which starts in Melbourne on Monday next week.
Neither player was able to secure a break in the entire match that was watched by a sell-out crowd of 5,200 at the Nungambakkam Tennis Stadium.
“It’s just an awesome feeling to win another title,” Raonic said. “I’ve just been on the tour for a year and am learning all the time. Here, I realized that it is good to have the security of a sound serve and wait for the opportunities to come your way.”
“In my three finals so far, I have played in seven tiebreakers in eight sets, so I could not have asked for more when the match went my way,” he said. “I am happy with the way I played this week on hard court. I was able to return better and served quite well. All this gives me a lot of confidence going into the Australian Open.”
Raonic came from behind after Tipsarevic had taken the tiebreaker in the first set with two superb cross-court passes that left his opponent stranded.
It was the first time that Raonic lost a set in the tournament.
Tipsarevic saved two break points in the seventh game of the second set, but it was Raonic’s turn to dominate the tiebreaker and level the match.
Raonic wasted two of the four match points he earned in the tiebreaker of the final set, before converting the third when his Serbian opponent netted a forehand return.
“It was a great game of tennis,” the 27-year-old Tipsarevic said after losing in the sixth of his eight career finals. “Nobody knew till the end who would win.”
“Unluckily for me, it was I who lost. It was just a matter of a few points here and there. Guys like Milos are special players. Hopefully, next time I will get the better of him,” he said.
Tipsarevic, who broke into the top 10 for the first time last year, had lost in the semi-finals in Chennai in the previous two editions.
The Serb made amends by partnering Indian veteran Leander Paes to win the doubles final against the Israeli pair of Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich. Tipsarevic and Paes won 6-4, 6-4.