Raonic on the rise after repeat San Jose success

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

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.

"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."

        Tennis

      • Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.

        What does 2015 hold for Rafa?

        Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
      • LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his long time girlfriend Kim Sears arrive at Buckingham Palace on October 17, in London, England. Murray will become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and receive his medal from the Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

        Love game: Andy Murray to tie knot

        The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
      • Despite being forced to retire at the age of 24 due to health problems, Lacoste remained in the game and went on start the "Lacoste" brand in 1933, which specialised in tennis products. The inspiration for the company's logo came from his nickname as a player, "le crocodile."

        'Crocodile' who broke all the rules

        His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
      • Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

        Serena savors U.S. Open win

        Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
      • American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.

        The amazing life of Althea Gibson

        Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
      • Courting couple at match point

        "I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
      • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: Tennis / Frauen: Wimbledon 2004, London; Finale; Siegerin Maria SHARAPOVA / RUS 03.07.04. (Photo by Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

        'Baby' Sharapova's big moment

        It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
      • 'Swiss Miss' follows mom's lead

        Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.