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Defending champion Milos Raonic became the first two-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season when he defeated unseeded Denis Istomin 7-6(3), 6-2 in the SAP Open final on Sunday in San Jose.

Raonic led the tournament with 61 aces, winning 86 per cent of first serve points and was only broken once (41 of 42 games held). “I think I served pretty flawlessly throughout the week,” he said. “I feel like I’m a much better tennis player than I was last year. I feel last year I was sort of playing probably higher than my potential. This year, I felt like I came in a much better player and I played well. First of all, it’s great to win it the first time. But coming back and being able to defend it means so much as well.”

In the final, games went with serve before Raonic raced to a 6-1 lead in the opening set tie-break, eventually closing it out 7-3. He converted both break point opportunities in the second set to seal his third ATP World Tour title in 79 minutes. Raonic had won the Aircel Chennai Open (d. Tipsarevc) in the opening week of the 2012 season.

Istomin, aiming to become the first player to win his maiden ATP World Tour title this year, had no answer to the big-serving Canadian in the first meeting between the pair and was full of praise for his opponent. “I won just four points on his serve, which makes it very difficult to win the match. I knew he was a great server and a good player. It’s very difficult to return,” he said.

Winning 90 per cent of first service points and 94 per cent on second serve, and facing no break points throughout the match, World No. 32 Raonic becomes the first player to win back-to-back titles here since Andy Murray in 2006-07.

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