BANGKOK – Canadian Milos Raonic upset top-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 7-6 (4), 6-3 to claim his fifth title at the Thailand Open on Sunday.
The No. 11-ranked Raonic put up 18 aces to beat his No. 6-ranked opponent in the final at the Impact Arena in one hour, 17 minutes.
It was Raonic’s fifth tour victory, adding to the three in San Jose from 2011-13 and Chennai in 2012.
He also improved his unbeaten record over Berdych to 2-0 after also beating the Czech player in the Cincinnati Masters last year.
Berdych had his chances in the match with a set point at 6-5 in the first but Raonic used his big serve to force a weak return before sending a forehand winner to escape.
The Canadian then relied on powerful serves to force the tie-break, which he sealed with another booming serve.
Raonic managed an early break in the second game to take a 2-0 lead in the second after Berdych netted two successive shots.
At 5-3, Raonic produced another ace to set up a championship point before blasting a forehand winner to take the match.
“It feels great to win the title,” said the 22-year-old from Thornhill., Ont., now 37-17 this season.
“The first set was about finding rhythm. Once I did I was solid after that,” he said.
“I knew I had to play slightly more aggressive, not just put the ball in play. I did that and was able to take control, I got some insight into what I needed to do to beat him.”
Raonic’s next challenge will be in Tokyo, where he lost the 2012 final to Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
“I’ll have to carry this momentum onto Tokyo,” he said before flying overnight to the Japanese capital for a Monday arrival.
“The only thing I’m worrying about is what I need to do in the first match (against Japan’s Go Soeda).
“I’m serving well and doing a lot of good things, I want to keep that up and put myself in a position to win more.”
Raonic said he’s been working hard on his game since losing to Rafael Nadal in the Rogers Cup final in Montreal in August.
“I maybe wasn’t playing my best tennis there but I’ve been improving a little at a time,” he said.
And the payoff for the work came in Bangkok.
“I’m happy with how I dealt with this whole week, I fought my way through and put the pieces together to win,” he said.