Milos Raonic falls in Memphis tennis final
Published Sunday, February 26, 2012 10:27PM EST
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Jurgen Melzer capped his amazing run through the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships with a broken right big toe by beating Canada's Milos Raonic 7-5, 7-6 (4) on Sunday for his fourth career title and first since 2010.
Melzer ran over and hugged his coach, Joakim Nystrom, in the front row after finishing off the victory. Back troubles knocked Melzer from eighth in the world last spring to 38th coming into Memphis.
The Austrian broke his toe Feb. 16 when he caught his foot in a hotel bedspread in the middle of the night. He responded by ousting top-seeded John Isner and No. 3 seed Radek Stepanek before downing the fourth-seeded Raonic, who was trying to win his third title this year and second in two weeks.
"If I play like this to win a tournament, I'll break a toe any day," Melzer said.
The 30-year-old Melzer picked up the US$277,915 winner's cheque in his first win since taking the title in his hometown of Vienna in 2010.
Melzer countered the power of the 21-year-old Thornhill, Ont., native by placing his shots well, with many going to the Raonic's backhand. Melzer closed out the 97-minute match when Raonic put a backhand into the net to end a second-set tiebreaker.
Melzer came in having lost U.S. finals in 2003 in Newport, 2006 in Houston and 2007 in Las Vegas. Now, he leaves Memphis for Delray Beach with his big toe feeling much better and a ranking around No. 22.
Raonic had been playing very well this year, with a match record of 15-1 and his lone loss coming to Lleyton Hewitt in the third round of the Australian Open. Raonic had won nine matches in a row in straight sets before Sunday.
Raonic held serve in 45-of-46 games this week before Melzer broke him to go up 6-5 in the first set. Raonic had a couple of unforced errors, starting with a forehand into the net. He also hit a forehand long and, down 30-40, Raonic hit another forehand into the net on the lone break point he faced. Melzer served out to win the first set, finishing with a 173 kilometres per hour ace.
Raonic looked frustrated with himself early but had a chance in the second set.
He needed four break points before breaking Melzer by hitting a forehand down the line to go up 3-1 in the set. Raonic held serve for a 4-1 lead before Melzer broke back when Raonic double-faulted to give the Austrian the advantage and then hit a forehand into the net.
Still, Raonic had set point at 30-40 leading 5-4 when Melzer double-faulted. Raonic hit a backhand into the net for deuce and a backhand return into the net to give Melzer the advantage. Then Raonic hit his return wide.
In the tiebreaker, Raonic fired up his serve with a 228 km/h ace and then a 238 km/h rocket for a service winner to go up 3-2. Melzer challenged an out call on his next serve and a replay showed the ball just caught the edge of the line.
Melzer got a mini-break when Raonic hit a forehand into the net to go up 5-3 in the tiebreaker. Up 5-4 and serving, Melzer watched Raonic hit a forehand wide before putting a backhand into the net on the final point.