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Raonic on the rise after repeat San Jose success

February 20, 2012 -- Updated 1331 GMT (2131 HKT)
Canada's Milos Raonic successfully defending his SAP Open crown on Sunday.
Canada's Milos Raonic successfully defending his SAP Open crown on Sunday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Canada's Milos Raonic beats Denis Istomin to win the SAP Open in San Jose
  • The 21-year-old won his first ATP Tour title at the same event 12 months ago
  • Raonic is the first male player to claim two tournament wins this season

(CNN) -- He was named the most promising player in men's tennis for 2011, and Milos Raonic's early form this year indicates that more accolades will be coming his way in the near future.

On Sunday, the ATP Tour's Newcomer of the Year became the first man to win two titles in 2012 as he successfully defended his SAP Open title in San Jose.

The win was poignant for the Yugoslavia-born Canadian, who claimed his breakthrough win at the same tournament 12 months ago.

"I feel like I'm a much better tennis player than I was last year," the 21-year-old told the ATP website after his 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 victory over Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin in the final. "I feel last year I was sort of playing probably higher than my potential.

I feel like I'm a much better tennis player than I was last year
Milos Raonic

"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."

The world No. 35 added to his impressive win at January's Chennai Open in India, where he became the first player to win a tournament without dropping serve since 16-time grand slam winner Roger Federer in 2008.

Raonic's booming serve was again impressive throughout the San Jose hard-court tournament as the third seed smashed 61 aces, won 86% of points on his first serve and held 41 of 42 service games.

"I won just four points on his serve, which makes it very difficult to win the match," said unseeded Istomin, who is still searching for his maiden title.

"I knew he was a great server and a good player. It's very difficult to return,"

Raonic concurred with his opponent: "I think I served pretty flawlessly throughout the week."

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