Andy Roddick won his 30th career title at the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis on Sunday with a thrilling 7–6, 6–7, 7–5 over the ATP Tour’s hottest player, Milos Raonic.
Roddick claimed his victory with a diving forehand down the line to break the mighty Raonic serve for only the third time.
He seemed incredulous after the victory, not knowing where his shot had gone. But sure enough, the veteran had hit the winner to win the match.
“I think I was very fortunate. I think I got outplayed for two and a half hours. I stuck around and kept trying,” Roddick said after the match.
“What a memorable 30th victory for me.”
Twenty-year-old Canadian Raonic entered the final as the ATP Tour’s hottest player having won his last eight matches including last week’s 250 Series event in San Jose.
His meteoric rise in the rankings, from No. 156 at the end of 2010 to No. 37 when the latest rankings will be released on Monday has been nothing short of spectacular. A year ago, Raonic was ranked No. 361.
“It’s been unbelievable, not where I expected to be after last week,” said Raonic in an on-court interview after the match.
He has garnered the attention of his country Canada with his play. Canada has not seen a player ranked higher than Greg Rusedski, who reached No. 41 before deciding to play for Great Britain.
Raonic, at 6-feet-5-inches, is capable of hitting all types of serves. He is the tour leader in aces with 303, and outaced Roddick in the final 32–20. Raonic regularly hit first serves at speeds in excess of 140 mph, including one at 150 mph deep into the third set.
The veteran Roddick who has been a model of consistency on tour was seeking his 11th straight year with a title. He beat Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro handily in the semifinal.
Roddick began the match in a foul mood, giving the umpire an earful for some questionable line calls. The court in Memphis had no electronic line calling.
But he shook off his concerns with the lines and focused on the task at hand, holding serve comfortably. Raonic actually did a better job taking care of his serve. Not surprisingly the first set ended in a tiebreak.
Roddick took the tiebreak, as his high backhand down the line was misjudged by Raonic. It clipped the baseline giving Roddick an 8–7 lead. Roddick then won the set with an ace.
The second set finally saw each player break serve but another tiebreak would be the decider. And what a tiebreak it was.
The second set tiebreak started off with long rallies, which should favor Roddick. The veteran preferred to play defensively and let the Canadian go for his shots under pressure.
Roddick got his first match point on Raonic’s serve at 5–6. But Raonic hit a terrific inside-out forehand to push it to 6–6. Raonic went up 7–6 to put the pressure back on Roddick.
But Roddick responded with a 147 mph ace out wide and another ace out wide in the deuce court to earn his second match point.
Raonic saved this second match point as Roddick’s return sailed long. After another cat-and-mouse point with Raonic dictating and Roddick slicing backhands, the Canadian took a 9–8 lead.
But a powerful backhand down the line from Roddick made it 9–9.
Next: Raonic takes the second set in the tiebreak, 13–11.