Sunday, February 17, 2013 9:22 pm
Raonic beats Haas for 3rd straight SAP Open title
By JOSH DUBOWAP Sports Writer
Raonic became the first player in more than a half-century to win this tournament three straight times, beating Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-3 Sunday for the title in the final year of the Bay Area tournament.
"I think roll up the court, put it in my bag and hopefully it doesn't get lost on a flight," Raonic said.
Raonic has never lost in 12 matches in this event and became the first player in the Open era that began in 1968 to win this tournament three straight times and first overall since Tony Trabert did it from 1953-55.
Raonic won the final tournament here in similar fashion to his first two, using an overpowering serve to control the match. He fired a 144 mph ace on his first serve of the match and was never threatened on serve. He had 19 aces and finished the week facing just a single break point.
Raonic wrapped up the match when Haas sent a backhand wide to lose serve for the third time in the match and then went into the players' box to hug family and friends.
Perhaps no one will miss this tournament as much as Raonic. Since coming here for the first time in 2010, he has never lost and has three of his four career titles in San Jose.
But he won't get another as the tournament that dates to 1889 is being moved to Memphis next year after the owners of the two events sold the higher-profile Memphis tournament to a group from Brazil.
"I'm really sad to see this go." he said. "It was sort of a go-to move for me in my schedule, one part of the year that was never discussed, `Let's go back there.' It's unfortunate really to not have that chance."
Raonic's performance at this event has truly been staggering. In 12 matches over three years, Raonic has never lost a single set and has been broken on serve in just two of 124 service games. He faced only three break points the past two years, saving two of them.
Now the 22-year-old needs to translate those kinds of results to other stops on the tour to improve his No. 13 ranking. His only other win came last year in Chennai and he has never made it past the fourth round of a major.
"If you put a Grand Slam in this arena I would put him up on that list for sure," Haas said. "We have to wait and see. He's one of the guys who has the firepower so you have to like that. He's not a guy who's going to run around and wait for mistakes."
With a serve that reached as much as 148 mph and was mixed with a slower, slicing serve that Haas struggled to reach, Raonic was in control from the start of this match. He won 29 of 32 points when he got his first serve in and only had to hit a second shot on three of those points.
That raised the stakes on Haas' own service game and he wasn't up to the task. Haas held all 27 service games coming into the match, but was pushed to deuce on his own serve in the opening game of the match.
He was broken in his second game when Raonic hit a backhand winner off a second serve to take the early lead that proved to be the margin in the opening set.
"I couldn't have returned too much better," Raonic said. "I did everything quite well."
Raonic pounded out 11 aces in the set, punctuating his first four holds with one before wrapping up the set with a 139 mph service winner.
Haas fought off two break points in the opening game of the second set but was broken in his final two service games to end the match. He hit a slice backhand long to fall behind 4-3 and was unable to overcome a 0-40 hole in the final game.
"There's nothing I could have done. I really didn't play a bad match. I just came up against a guy who played some unbelievable tennis today," Haas said. "He served extremely well. He had a lot of confidence in that serve. He played risky when he had to and got rewarded for it. That's his game. That's what makes it so tough. It puts pressure on me trying to hold serve. He was feeling it."
The 34-year-old Haas has won only one title since 2009, beating Roger Federer in Halle last year.
In the doubles final, Xavier Malisse and Frank Moser beat Lleyton Hewitt and Marinko Matosevic 6-0, 6-7 (5), 10-4.