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Milos Raonic stuns Fernando Verdasco at San Jose Open

Milos Raonic
Yugoslavia-born Raonic was ranked 156th at the end of last season

Canadian prospect Milos Raonic enhanced his growing reputation with victory over defending champion Fernando Verdasco at the SAP Open in San Jose.

The 20-year-old beat top seed Verdasco 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-5) to become the first Canadian since Greg Rusedski in 1995 to collect an ATP World Tour title.

He is also the youngest winner since Croatia's Marin Cilic triumphed at the New Haven Open in 2008 aged 19.

The result sees Raonic rise 25 places to a career-high ranking of 59th.

He entered the season as world number 156 and was 84th at the start of the tournament.

"It came quicker than expected and it was amazing, I can't stop smiling" said Raonic of his maiden tour title. "I hope I can keep it going more than six weeks, for a full year schedule, and see where I am at the end of the year.

"I can play at this level. It's going to be tough to jump into the top 10 right now but I think I'm on the right way."

"I have some things I want to work on but I'm happy with my week and I'll always remember this. This is what I've always dreamed of."

The Yugoslavia-born right-hander displayed maturity and confidence beyond his years in a match that featured only one break point and no breaks of serves.

He deserved the victory here. He was hitting big serves but he also had so many forehand winners. I tried it all but couldn't do anything more. He played too well

Fernando Verdasco on Milos Raonic

He fired 13 aces and 50 winners, capturing 49 of the 56 points contested when his first serve landed in.

Verdasco opened up a 6-2 lead in the first-set tie-break but failed to convert any of his four set points.

The world number nine was off target with a pass, saw Raonic crack service and forehand winners and then missed a simple forehand to squander the final opportunity.

Raonic made the most of his opponent's profligacy by earning a set point of his own with a backhand winner and followed it up with a huge serve.

The second set went much the same way as the opener with both men holding fairly easily. Verdasco did engineer a break point in game eight but Raonic escaped with a service winner.

Another tie-break was forthcoming and the Canadian converted his third match point with an unreturnable 138mph serve to his opponent's forehand.

Just as Verdasco got his racquet to the the ball a spectator shouted "yes" and the Spaniard netted his return.

The chair umpire refused to replay the point and an angry Verdasco later said: "If you don't know the rules of tennis, you should go watch soccer."

He was, however, gracious in defeat and conceded he struggled to cope with Raonic's booming serve.

"I saw the big potential he had in Australia," added Verdasco, referring to the Australian Open, where Raonic became the first qualifier since 1999 to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

"He deserved the victory here. He was hitting big serves but he also had so many forehand winners. I tried it all but couldn't do anything more. He played too well."

The pair are due to meet again on Wednesday after they were drawn together for the first round of the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis.

"I will just pray a lot that he will hit a lot of double faults and I won't even have to play," joked Verdasco.

Britain's Andy Murray also won his first ATP title at the San Jose Open, beating Lleyton Hewitt in the 2006 final.

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see also
Soderling retains Rotterdam title
13 Feb 11 |  Tennis
Murray brothers lose semi-final
12 Feb 11 |  Tennis
Murray slumps to defeat on return
09 Feb 11 |  Tennis
Magic Murray claims maiden title
20 Feb 06 |  Tennis

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