Raonic stuns Verdasco to claim first title
San Jose: Canadian prospect Milos Raonic enhanced his growing reputation with a stunning 7-6, 7-6 upset victory over top seed and defending champion Fernando Verdasco to win his first title at the San Jose Open on Sunday.
The unseeded 20-year-old displayed maturity and confidence beyond his years in blasting 13 aces and claiming 49 of his 56 first serve points against the ninth ranked Spaniard.
"It (first tour win) came quicker than expected and it was amazing," said Raonic, who registered 50 winners to offset 30 unforced errors. "I can`t stop smiling about it."
While Verdasco was generally unable to deal with the Raonic serve, he did forge a 6-2 lead in the first tiebreaker but could not convert any of his four set points.
He missed a forehand pass, saw the Canadian crack service and forehand winners and then missed a simple forehand to let the final opportunity slip from his grasp.
Raonic, who was ranked 84th at the start of the event, made the most of his opponent`s profligacy by earning a set point of his own with a backhand winner before taking the tiebreaker 8-6 with another huge serve.
"I used up my luck today in the tiebreaker and then in the second set I got more confident," Raonic said.
The second set went much the same way as the first with both men holding fairly easily. Verdasco held his only break point at 4-4 but Raonic responded with another service winner.
The two went into another tiebreaker, where on Raonic`s third match point, he torched 138mph serve at Verdasco`s forehand but before the Spaniard made contact with the ball, a fan yelled "yes" and the top seed netted his return
The chair umpire refused to replay the point, allowing Raonic to claim the tiebreaker 7-5 and the match.
An angry Verdasco said that fans that acted like that should not be allowed into the stadium.
"If you don`t know the rules of tennis, you should go watch soccer," he said
The Spaniard believed he was largely in control of baseline rallies but could not make inroads into the serve of his opponent, who Verdasco believes will crack the top 20 by the end of the year.
"I played well when he let me on his serve because I think there must be another league for he and (Croatian player Ivo) Karlovic because it`s like another sport," Verdasco said.
"When you serve every time 140mph and every time you have chance he`s going to the line, you can`t do anything. Plus from the baseline, he`s a better player than Karlovic."
Raonic first came to world`s attention when he upset 10th seed Mikhail Youzhny and reached the fourth round of the Australian Open last month.
The San Jose triumph made Raonic the first Canadian since Greg Rusedski in 1995 to win an ATP title. At 20 years and one month, he is the youngest tour winner since Marin Cilic of Croatia won the New Haven title at 19 in 2008.
He is projected to rise to a career high number 59 when the rankings are released on Monday, but does not plan to stop there.
"I can play at this level," he said. "It`s going to be tough to jump into the top 10 right now but I think I`m on the right way."