Raonic wins singles title in Chennai Open

Chennai: Fourth seeded Canadian Milos Raonic played the game of his career to snatch the singles title from the jaws of defeat in the USD 450,000 Chennai Open tennis championship by beating top seeded Serbian Janko Tipsarevic 6-7(4) 7-6(4) 7-6(4) in the final here in Chennai, capital of south Indian state Tamil Nadu on Sunday.

The match also tuned out to be the longest final in the history of the Chennai Open.

Sending out 35 aces against Tipsarevic`s eight, Raonic colleted 250 ATP points and a cash prize of USD 71,900 besides the glittering trophy, while the runner-up received USD 37,860 and 150 points after the 193-minute duel.

Regarded as the most feared talent on the circuit, Raonic`s biggest weapon is his booming serve and despite lacking in ground strokes, he stuck to his game plan well, most importantly in the tie-breaker, to get the better of Tipsarevic who dished out variety in his game.

This is Raonic`s second tour title on three final appearances after the triumph in San Jose.

Having played 140 minutes of tough two tie-break sets, Tipsarevic looked to be wearing out in the third set in which Raonic had the upper hand and, apart from holding his own service games, the Serbian often came from behind to win his own games.

The set went on even keel till 5-5 though Raonic frittered away a chance to break (with one break point) in the eighth game.

Tipsarevic played tight to hold on to his 12th game. There was not a single break in 36 games between the players.

In the tie-break, Raonic led 4-0 when Tipsarevic committed two unforced errors, and the 21-year-old Canadian enhanced his chance with a superb ace (5-0). Tipsarevic made it 1-5 and then made Raonic run end to end and placed a forehand winner for 2-5.

Raonic, who has rarely succeeded with his ground strokes, won the set and the match at 7-6 (4) when Tipsarevic failed to put across a forehand return. An elated Raonic removed his shoes and threw them on either side of the spectators gallery.

In the first two sets, world number 31 Raonic, who had the support of the crowd, who at times stood up to appreciate his serves, mainly when it touched 228 KMPH, had to be blamed for his mistakes at least on two occasions once in each set.

He had almost broken the highest ranked player in the tournament. He enjoyed two break points in the fourth game of the first set and then three break points in the seventh game of the second. But at the verge of winning the games, Raonic played in to the hands of Tipsarevic.

On another occasion in the 12th game of the second set, Raonic was asked to replay the point at 40-30 when Tipsarevic successfully challenged a line call. The game went in to deuce but Raonic managed to win and take the match to the tie-breaker.

In the tie-breaker, Raonic led 4-1 after Tipsarevic had wasted two service games ? sending his backhand return out and then failing to put across a service return. He made it 5-2 and then 6-3 and finally settled the issue with an ace.

In the third set, Raonic, who had not dropped a set on his way to the final, tightened his grips on unforced errors. Raonic was able win points mainly through his serves and yielded points regularly on poor returns.

Tipserevic too proved that he is a master of tough situations as he went about his task by controlling the pace of his returns which deceived the Canadian.

Though Raonic was able to dictate terms in the first set, particularly in the fourth game, Tipsarevic was in his elements too. With the rivals holding on to the service game, the set went to the tie-break and there Tipsarevic brought his experience in to play and quell the challenge of Raonic.

In the tie break, Raonic was forced to meet the net three times on his returns.