California - Big-serving Canadian top seed Milos Raonic captured his record-tying third consecutive ATP Tour SAP Open title on Sunday, defeating German fourth seed Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-3 in the final.
Raonic, ranked 13th, joined Tony Trabert, the 1953-1955 champion, as the only players to win the event three times in a row. Raonic has won 24 sets in a row at San Jose, never dropping a set in any of his title runs.
"A lot has happened here," Raonic said. "I've grown a lot here. I've had my best matches here. The opportunity I was given with a wildcard (entry) my first year here, something to build toward, it's something pretty special."
It was Raonic's fourth ATP career title, the other coming last year at Chennai.
The first career meeting between Raonic, 22, and Haas, 34, came in the final match in the 125-year history of the $547 000 indoor hardcourt event, which is being dropped from the ATP programme after this year.
"It's sad to see it go," Raonic said.
"It's a tournament we should have kept if there was some way possible," Haas added. "It's always sad to see a tournament with so much tradition, and one so many people have put so much into, to see it leave."
Raonic held in his first service game with four aces, the last at 148 mph, and then broke Haas with a backhand return winner for a 2-1 lead on the way to taking the first set with 12 aces, losing only one point on his first serve.
Raonic, cheered on by his parents, broke in the seventh game of the second set for a 4-3 edge and broke again to take the match.
"The way he played today made me know what it feels like to fight a heavyweight," Haas said. "He played great tennis."
Haas, ranked 22nd after a comeback season fighting off injuries, was denied a 14th career ATP crown in his 25th career ATP final. He would have become the oldest San Jose champion since Roy Emerson won the title at age 36 in 1973.
"Growing up, I looked up to Tommy. I still look up to him," Raonic said. "To do what he is doing, coming back through injuries, is spectacular. He's still having a great career."