|(AFP PHOTO / NICOLAS ASFOURI)
San Jose, CA – Milos Raonic of Canada claimed his first career title with a victory over defending champion Fernando Verdasco of Spain in Sunday's final at the $600,000 SAP Open.
At 20 years, 1 month, 17 days, Raonic posted a 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5) win over Verdasco to become the youngest winner on the ATP World Tour since Marin Cilic (19 years, 11 months) won in New Haven on August 23, 2008.
"I came here and had probably my best week," Raonic said. "I can't stop smiling. I'm happy about it and I hope I can keep it going more than six weeks into the full year schedule and see where I am at the end of the year."
Raonic, playing in his first career final, became the fourth player to win his first career title in the Open Era at this tournament. He got to the final thanks to France's Gael Monfils pulling out of their semifinal match.
Raonic also became the first Canadian to win an ATP World Tour title since Greg Rusedski captured the title in Seoul in April 1995.
Verdasco, the No. 1 seed, was searching for his sixth career title in his 14th finals appearance. He has never successfully defended a title.
The Spaniard, who beat Juan Martin del Potro in the semis, was trying to become the seventh player in the Open Era to win back-to-back titles in the Bay Area tournament.
"He has good potential and he has one of the best serves, and also on the baseline he plays so aggressive," Verdasco said. "The moments he needs to play solid, he plays solid, and I think that he can be a Top 20 player very soon. Now he's going to be [ranked] 50-something, and it's just the beginning of the year. He has all year to become a good player and I think he can do it."
This was the first meeting between the two players.
Raonic took home $92,000 with the victory.