Resilient Raonic claims crown

Canadian claws his way back from a set down to edge out Tipsarevic in final

It was a match befitting the final. In a slugfest lasting more than three hours during which neither man was willing to give up the fight despite tired limbs and aching shoulders, Canadian bomber Milos Raonic emerged a worthy winner with a 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4) verdict at the Chennai Open to claim only his second career ATP title here at the Nungabkkam stadium on Sunday.

one for the album: Canada’s Milos Raonic is a picture of delight after winning the Chennai Open on Sunday. PTI

With this victory, the fourth seed collected a purse of $71,900 and a whopping 250 ATP points which should catapult him to the top 20 in the world.

For his opponent and top seed Janko Tipsarevic, the title once again remained elusive, forcing him to settle for $37,860 and 150 points.

Minus his big serve -- he came up with 37 aces on the day -- Raonic may not have looked even half the player he was on view against a well-rounded Tipsarevic. The 21-year-old had no qualms in accepting the fact.

“It’s (serve) a big part of my game,” admitted Raonic later. “Having that security is a great feeling. Even if I am not playing well, 99 percent of the time I will back myself to serve well. On any given day, I will rate my serves 9-9.5 on a scale of ten. And today I think I served very close to 10.”

Raonic was evidently over the moon. “It’s my second win and it’s an awesome feeling. It’s a great feeling to be here, to be talking in such a great mood, to be having this experience and to be in front of such a crowd.”

A regular at the Chennai Open, Tipsarevic is a popular man with the fans here. But such has been Raonic’s (read his serves’) impact that he had more number of supporters cheering for him at the near-capacity Centre Court.

The top-ranked Serbian was on the brink of being broken in the fourth game of the first set when Raonic had a break point at 30-40 and then three more advantages but his second most potent weapon, the forehand return, gave in on two occasions to deny him a chance to take an early lead. After that, neither man got a chance of a break, and in the tie-break, Tipsarevic emerged a surprise winner with a lone mini-break on the eighth serve.

Similar pattern

The second set followed a similar pattern and, once again, Raonic couldn’t convert his chances that came in the first and seventh games.

Tipsarevic, not unaware of the dangers of feeding his rival’s forehand, attacked his backhand and the World number 31 was found wanting almost ever time the ball on the left side of his court. Tipsarevic, too, had a couple of chances to pull a break off in the eighth game (he had two break points) but he could do little against Raonic’s thunderous serves.

As the game slipped into a second tie-break, stakes the once again were heavily stacked up against Tipsarevic and, unlike in the first, there was no let up in intensity from Raonic’s side.

Despite conceding a mini-break on the first serve, the Montenergo-born player ran up a 4-1 lead and wrapped up the set 7-4.

It was the same story in the final set where neither man asked for an inch and none was given.  Tipsarevic’s best chance of winning the match was in not allowing Raonic to take the set into another tie-break, but there was no stopping the giant.

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