Milos Raonic (Thornhill, Ont.) won the seventh ATP World Tour title of his career on Sunday, defeating Portuguese Joao Sousa 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the St. Petersburg Open final in Russia.
Seeded No. 2 in St. Petersburg, classified as a 250-level event, Raonic faced his toughest opponent of the tournament in Sousa. The No. 7 seed was the only person to break Raonic all week, taking his serve at the 2-1 mark in the second set and holding on to force a decider. But Canada’s No. 1-ranked player swung momentum his way by breaking to open the final set and take control.
Raonic ultimately saved nine of 10 break points he faced against the No. 53-ranked Sousa (including all six in the third set), blasted 22 aces, and won 75 per cent of his first serve points. He secured the title in two hours and six minutes.
“It was a very difficult match, very high-quality and I’m fortunate to be able to say I won that,” Raonic said on the broadcast following the match. “It was a lot closer than [the score line might indicate], we both had a lot of opportunities. I had a lot at the beginning of the second set, he had a lot at the beginning of the third. I’m just happy with the way I competed and that I was able to close it out.”
En route to the championship, Raonic also eliminated Russian wild card Evgeny Donskoy, No. 5-seeded Spaniard Tommy Robredo, and No. 4 Roberto Bautista Agut, also from Spain.
With the victory, at what was his first tournament since he was hampered by back problems in a third-round exit at the US Open, Raonic adds a seventh title to his trophy case and a first for this year. He has captured at least one crown every season since his breakthrough in 2011 (2011 – San Jose; 2012 – Chennai, San Jose; 2013 – San Jose, Bangkok; 2014 – Washington; 2015 – St. Petersburg).
His record in finals is now 7-9. The world No. 9 has made one other final in 2015, falling to Roger Federer at Brisbane in the very first week of the year.
Next up for Raonic will be the China Open, an ATP World Tour 500 tournament in Beijing, taking place October 5-11.