The Canadian bombed his higher-ranked opponent with 35 aces to clinch the Chennai Open
It was over all too anti-climactically, as a routine forehand return sank into the net on match-point, but for over three hours Canadian Milos Raonic and top-seeded Janko Tipsarevic refused to yield to the other's strengths.
It took three gruelling tie-breaks to identify the winner, and in the end it was the 21-year-old Raonic, who took home his second ATP title following a 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 7-6(4) win over the World No. 9 Serbian.
Raonic bombed his higher-ranked opponent with 35 aces to clinch an over-three-hour crap-shoot that witnessed nary a break of serve, and proved — if at all proof was needed — his suitability to inhabit the top-most echelons of the great game.
Such was the quality of the fare that even Tipsarevic's comely partner – sitting pretty and on the edge in a slinky white number in the player's enclosure – failed to distract from what was happening on court.
She pumped her fists in tandem with her husband, but it was all to no end – beauty doesn't always save the world, notwithstanding what Tipsarevic's tattoo has to say.
Tipsarevic, though, made all the right moves in the first set, saving four of four break-points to enforce a tie-break, in which he effected a mini-break (as Raonic fluffed a backhand volley) on the eighth point.
He then took the lead when another backhand from the Canadian missile launcher found a resting place in the net.
A set down and facing a top-ten adversary in a title clash, Raonic appeared far from being overawed.
He began the second set wading into Tipsarevic's serve, and had him 15-40 down before squandering his advantage.
Holds of serve continued to be the norm, although it could be safely inferred from their pattern of attainment (Tipsarevic scratching to hold, Raonic blasting his way ahead) what course the match would eventually take.
Raonic equalised the set score when he nailed the second tie-break (after racing to a 6-3 lead) on his second set-point, blitzing a 220kmph serve past the hapless Tipsarevic.
The decider commenced in a manner most unnatural. Raonic found himself facing three break-points, saved them all, extending the holding pattern that had been the hallmark of the match so far.
Tipsarevic paid him back in kind, saving a break-point in the eighth game to hold for 4-4.
Strategic serving by the Serb, coupled with the nukes that Raonic unleashed, ensured that the decider too would see rightful culmination in a tie-break – however unfair that might have seemed.
The final tie-break, however, turned out to be a dud. Raonic galloped to 5-0 (thanks to an ace, a few unforced errors from his opponent and two service winners), and a deficit such as this was always going to be impossible to overcome against a serve that contained the firepower of a truckload of TNT.
Tipsarevic, to his credit saved two match-points (to move from 2-6 to 4-6) in the ultimate tie-break, but gave in on his own serve when a tepid forehand return scudded into the net, to give Raonic a well-earned win in three hours and 13 minutes.
“It's a good feeling to know that if you take care of your serve, you will be in the tie-break. It's just my second tournament win and this is an amazing feeling,” said Raonic later. “I hate losing more than I love winning,” the Canadian revealed his motivating factor.
The result: Singles: Final: Milos Raonic (Can) bt JankoTipsarevic (Srb) 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 7-6(4).