Tue, Feb 28, 2012 - Page 19 News List

Melzer ends Raonic’s win streak in Memphis final

AFP, Memphis, Tennessee

Juergen Melzer of Austria holds up his trophy after beating Milos Raonic of Canada in the Regions Morgan Keegan Tennis Championships in Memphis, Tennessee, on Sunday.

Photo: EPA

Jurgen Melzer wasn’t about to let an aching toe get in the way as he faced one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour, who was making a second-straight appearance in the Memphis final.

The unseeded Melzer defeated Milos Raonic 7-5, 7-6 (7/4) in the final of the US$1.37 million ATP and WTA Memphis Open to capture his fourth career ATP title on Sunday.

“Who would have thought I would come here break my toe and end up winning the tournament,” Melzer said.

Melzer broke the big toe on his right foot when he tripped over his bed in his hotel room on Thursday last week.

He decided against putting a wrap or cast on it and went out the next day to beat top seed John Isner in the quarter-finals.

Melzer, who upset Isner and third seed Radek Stepanek en route to the final, clinched Sunday’s victory in a second-set tie-break when Raonic hammered a backhand into the net.

The left-handed Austrian earned US$278,000 in prize money for his first win since successfully defending his crown in his hometown of Vienna two years ago.

“This is a very important time for me,” Melzer said. “I am happy I pulled it through.”

It was the second year in a row the fourth-seeded Canadian Raonic lost in the Memphis final after winning the week before in San Jose, California.

Melzer broke Raonic’s mighty serve in the seventh game of the second set to cut Raonic’s lead to 4-3. Melzer then survived a set point in the 10th game before both players held serve to set up the tie-break.

Melzer also broke Roanic’s serve in the 11th game of the first set to take a 6-5 lead. He ended the 41-minute opening set with an ace out wide on his second set point that Raonic couldn’t reach with his backhand.

By taking the first set, Melzner snapped Raonic’s win streak so far this year at 19 consecutive sets. Raonic had not lost a set since he fell to Aussie Lleyton Hewitt in the third round of the Australia Open last month.

Melzer reached a career high ranking of eighth in the world early last year, but then struggled in the second half of the season, losing in the first round in three straight tournaments in August before finishing the year with a 22-23 record.

“I went through a hard time last year with a lot of back problems. This is finally an achievement that puts me out of the dark times,” Melzer said.

Raonic, who lost in last year’s final to American veteran Andy Roddick, came into Sunday’s championship match riding a nine-match win streak and was seeking to add the Memphis crown to titles he already won this year in San Jose and Chennai, India.

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