Tennis

Raonic beats Verdasco in rematch at Memphis

Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., beat Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 3-6 7-6 (5) at the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis after winning last week's tournament final in San Jose.

Milos Raonic beat world No. 9 Fernando Verdasco of Spain for the second time in as many matches Wednesday and advanced to second round of the Memphis ATP Tour event.

Raonic won 6-4, 3-6 7-6 (5) in the rematch of last week's tournament final in San Jose, Calif., which the hard-serving Canadian won for his first career championship on the ATP Tour.

"I'm happy with the outcome, but I think there are things I can improve on the match that I'll take time to think about," Raonic said. "But I can't be unsatisfied with this result."

He said beating Verdasco on Sunday did provide a confidence boost.

A frustrated Verdasco, who was the No. 2 seed in Memphis, lamented having to play the hard-serving Raonic twice in conditions that favour his game and not Verdasco's.

"For me that's not a real match in tennis," Verdasco said. "I hope to play soon against him in clay court to show him what it is to play tennis, and play rallies, and run, and not only serve."

After both players needed just one break each to split the first two sets, the final set went the distance.

Raonic held the early lead in the tiebreak, but Verdasco came back to tie it at 5-5. The 20-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., won the next two points to book his spot in the next round and keep his impressive winning streak alive. Raonic now has 9-1 tiebreak record in 2011.

Raonic will next face former world No. 8 Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic on Thursday.

Wednesday's win was the latest big result Raonic, who has jumped from No. 156 to No. 59 in the ATP rankings after his strong showing at the Australian Open and his victory in San Jose.

It was a good day overall for Canadian tennis players in Memphis, as sixth seed Rebecca Marino of Vancouver won her second-round women's match 6-4, 6-1 over Sorana Cirstea of Romania, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. Marino is the last seeded player left in the women's bracket.

Marino will meet American Coco Vandeweghe in the quarter-finals Thursday.

In men's doubles action, the top-seeded team of Toronto's Daniel Nestor and Belarusian Max Mirnyi beat Yen-hsun Lu of Taiwan and Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia, 6-3, 6-1, in a first-round match.

In other first-round men's action, former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, a quarter-finalist last week in San Jose, beat No. 7 seed Yen-Hsun Lu, 6-4, 7-6(3) .

Hewitt, who is ranked 70th and unseeded in the tournament, wasn't pleased with how the second set unfolded.

"It's always frustrating to be up a set and a break and (not) close it out," Hewitt said.

"I felt like I came out and I was ready to go right from the start, which was a key out there because Lu is a good ball-striker. He hits a lot of winners out there and it's hard to be real aggressive against him."

No. 4 Mardy Fish defeated Lukas Lacko, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (3) in the second round and Robert Kendrick beat James Blake, 7-6 (5), 6-3 in his second-round match to reach the quarterfinals of an ATP event for the first time since July 2006.

Florent Serra knocked out No. 9 Xavier Malisse, who had to retire in the second set trailing 6-2, 1-0 because of headaches.

In the women's event, No. 3 Melanie Oudin was eliminated by Evgeniya Rodina of Russia, 6-1, 7-5.

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