Raonic’s run ends in loss to Andy Roddick

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Milos Raonic’s dazzling run at the ATP Tour event in Memphis ended in defeat. The 20-year-old Canadian dropped a hard-fought 7-6 (7), 6-7 (11), 6-4 decision to American Andy Roddick in the final of the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships on Sunday.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Milos Raonic’s dazzling run at the ATP Tour event in Memphis ended in defeat.

The 20-year-old Canadian dropped a hard-fought 7-6 (7), 6-7 (11), 6-4 decision to American Andy Roddick in the final of the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships on Sunday.

Raonic, of Thornhill, Ont., was gunning for his second consecutive ATP Tour victory after winning last weekend in San Jose, Calif.

“It’s the end of two long weeks,” said Raonic, who leaves Monday for his next event in Acapulco. “I just gave it everything I had. It didn’t work out my way. Nevertheless, it was a brilliant final, I think, and it was a lot I pushed out of him and he’s been in the top 10 for how many years now. It’s a positive outlook, something to be very proud and happy with.”

His surprising two-week performance will move him to around No. 37 in the tennis world rankings. He finished 2010 ranked No. 156.

“He’s as exciting of a talent as we’ve seen in a while,” Roddick said of Raonic. “The good news for him is he’s going to be able to learn on the run because that serve is going to win him a lot of matches, even if he goes up and down with his play because it’s one of the biggest serves I’ve seen.”

Roddick polished off the two-hour 36-minute match by diving to put his racket on the ball for a winner down the line that broke Raonic for the victory.

“That’s the best shot I’ve ever hit in my life, considering the circumstance …,” Roddick said. “I don’t really remember much else besides the fact that I went for the ball, and I hit it. I didn’t really think too much of it. I was already in my head, I was like, ’There’s no way,’ and then I heard people cheering. I was like, ’There’s no way that went in. I guess it did.”’

The top-seeded Roddick becomes the eighth American with at least 30 titles, only three behind the late Arthur Ashe. He also has at least one title in 11 straight years, something only Roger Federer has done among active players.

“I think I was very fortunate. I feel like I got outplayed, I just stuck around and kept trying,” Roddick said. “What a memorable 30th victory for me. I couldn’t be happier to do it in Memphis.”

Roddick picked up the US$264,000 winner’s check, his third in Memphis. He also becomes only the third player to win at least three titles in Memphis since 1976, joining Tommy Haas (1999, 2006-07) and Jimmy Connors, who won four (1978-78, 1983-84).

Earlier, Toronto’s Daniel Nestor teamed with Max Mirnyi of Belarus to win the men’s doubles title.

Raonic had 32 more aces and finished the week with 125. He hit 241 km/h to hold serve in the 10th game of the third set, but it wasn’t enough. Roddick dove toward the corner and got his racket on the ball barely a foot off the ground before tumbling over, knocking his hat off.

Roddick immediately looked to follow the shot down the line before pulling himself up. He put his hat back on and then almost shrugged at what he had done.

“I think I may be on one of the YouTube most-viewed points,” Raonic said. “I was on the wrong end of the court. But at least I’ll be on the (description).”

Raonic said he thought he had the point won based on where he put the shot compared to where Roddick was on the court.

“I think it’s nice he had to come up with something that amazing to finish off the match,” Raonic said.

This was the first meeting between Raonic and Roddick, who ranks behind only Federer (67) and Rafael Nadal (43) for career wins among active players. Both have big serves, and each came into the final having been broken only four times during this event.

Roddick had been coughing this week and started slowly with a couple of double-faults and fought off a couple break points to hold serve. He couldn’t get a point off Raonic’s big serve until the 10th game, when the Canadian put a forehand into the net. Roddick broke him twice in the tiebreaker to go up 8-7 and then served up a 204-km/h ace of his own to take the first set. But he moved back, almost to the edge of the court, to give himself enough room to pick up Raonic’s serve.

“It’s a little lonely,” Roddick said. “I was literally having to move officials around on second serve. I said, ’He’s coming there, so you’re going to have to call it from a different angle. … Not a lot of guys who force you to do that.”

They broke each other’s serve early in the second set before holding serve into another tiebreaker. Raonic converted on his third set point after Roddick hit a backhand wide off his serve and then hit a forehand long.

In the third set, Roddick had a chance to close out the match early as he broke Raonic and held serve to go up 4-1.

But Raonic broke back, converting on his fifth break point to pull to 4-3. Roddick was up 5-4 with a chance to break Raonic at 30-40 only to put a backhand into the net. Facing deuce, Raonic served up his 241-km/h ace and then hit a backhand crosscourt for the winner.

Raonic tied the final game at 30 when Roddick put a forehand into the net by doing the same. That set up the final point for Roddick’s exciting dive to finish off the match.