Milos Raonic picked up right where he left off after a breakthrough 2011 campaign, winning his first tournament of 2012 at the Aircel Chennai Open in Chennai, India.
The Canadian rising star outlasted Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 7-6(4) in a thrilling, well-played final that eclipsed the three-hour mark and is an early candidate for ATP match of the year. The win is Raonic’s second ATP World Tour title after winning his maiden crown in San Jose last March.
Remarkably, there was not one break of serve in the match which saw Raonic hit no less than 35 aces all while maintaining a first serve percentage above 70 percent. The 35 aces is the fifth highest ace total in a final since 1991. In fact, the 21-year-old served 76 aces in four matches and was never broken in 48 service games. He is the first player since Roger Federer in 2008 to win a tournament without dropping serve.
Raonic defeated World No. 10 Nicolas Almagro in the semifinals and No. 9 Tipsarevic in the championship match and now has five career Top 10 wins. This is the first time in his career he has defeated two Top 10 players in the same tournament. Also of note, Raonic becomes the first player born in the 90’s to win two ATP titles, making him the favourite among the young guns of the Tour to make a splash at the Australian Open next week.
With his title run in Chennai, Raonic will move up to around no. 26 on the ATP rankings. The withdrawals of Robin Soderling and Marin Cilic mean that he could be seeded no. 24 in Australia, thus avoiding a match up with a Top 8 seed until the fourth round.
Last year in Melbourne, Raonic announced his arrival with a Round of 16 showing before falling to David Ferrer in four sets. The “Maple Leaf Missile” and his lethal serve seem poised to make another deep run Down Under and could pose a big threat in the second week of the season’s first Grand Slam event.
Nestor and Mirnyi win Brisbane
Another week, another title for Daniel Nestor. He and partner Max Mirnyi defeated Jurgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner 6-1, 6-2 to win the Brisbane International and their fifth title together. The win is also Nestor’s 76th career title and his first triumph in Brisbane.
Meanwhile, wrapping up a rather impressive opening week for tennis in Canada, Rebecca Marino and Aleksandra Wozniak battled for close to three hours in the first all-Canadian match up of the year in the second round of qualifying at the Hobart International. Battling bronchitis, Wozniak pulled out a gutsy win, 11-9 in the third set tiebreak. The two players have met twice in the past four months and both matches went the distance. For the first time in a while, there seems to be a Canadian rivalry brewing, and that’s certainly not a bad thing.