Bangkok, Thailand (4E Sports) – Third seed Milos Raonic fired 18 aces and won 95 percent of his first-serve points en route to a 7-6 (4), 6-3 win over top seed Tomas Berdych in the Thailand Open final Sunday.
After clinching the win in one hour and 17 minutes, Raonic boosted his bid to qualify for November’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. He is now just 180 points behind tenth-placed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Emirates ATP Race to London.
“I think I struggled a lot more than him at the beginning, he was finding his rhythm better,” said Raonic. “In the tie-break, it just came down to one return and playing pretty sold after that… I started being more aggressive.”
Raonic improved his head-to-head record against Berdych to 2-0 and captured his second title of the season following a third straight win in San Jose. He improved his record in ATP World Tour finals to 5-4 and lifted his career record against Top 10 opponents to 12-20.
Berdych’s loss left him as the only player within the Top 10 not to have won a title this season.
Meanwhile, world No. 77 Joao Sousa claimed his first ATP World Tour title after beating fifth seed Julien Benneteau, 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, for the Malaysian Open crown.
The 24-year-old Sousa saved six of eight break points in the two-hour, 18-minute match to become the first player from Portugal to win an ATP World Tour final, going one step better than Frederico Gil, who lost to Albert Montanes in Oeiras, Portugal in May 2010.
Sousa also became the seventh first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season, with his win over France’s Benneteau in the pair’s first meeting.
On the women’s side, top seed Serena Williams opened her China Open campaign with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Elena Vesnina.
Williams lost a 4-1 lead after three straight games in the first set and fell behind 1-2 in the second but reeled off five games in a row to advance.
Home favorite and fourth seed Li Na also advanced to the next round after beating Daniela Hantuchova, 6-0, 6-4.
Other winners were Maria Kirilenko, Laura Robson, Lauren Davis, Misaki Doi, Sabine Lisicki, Agnieszka Radwanska, Kaia Kanepi, Lucie Safarova, Maria Kirilenko and Madison Keys.