Milos Raonic, Canada clinch Davis Cup tie in Halifax
Canada secures berth in World Group for 2015
Milos Raonic did just what was expected of him. The Thornhill, Ont., native won both his singles matches in a playoff tie with Colombia, including the clinching match on Sunday, as Canada stayed in the Davis Cup World Group for the fourth straight year.
Raonic, No. 7 in the ATP singles rankings, beat Santiago Giraldo, 6-1, 7-6(2), 7-5 in front of a spirited crowd at Halifax Metro Centre. The win gave Canada a 3-1 lead in a best-of-five tie and secured Canada's spot in the World Group for 2015.
"I knew I wasn't playing my best tennis, probably at B-plus level at the very best," Raonic said. "But I am extremely happy the way I competed in both matches and giving Canada a deciding point in a tie for the fifth time."
Raonic won deciding points against Mexico, South Africa, Spain and Italy.
"I was struggling a little bit in the second set, but decided to put an extra pressure on Giraldo by serving and attacking the net as often as possible," he said.
"I don't think that Milos was in danger, even if he had lost that second set," said Canadian coach Martin Larendeau. "He was serving well and played aggressively, so I was confident he could win for us."
"The goal was to compete to the best of my ability. I got the job done." -Raonic <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DavisCup?src=hash">#DavisCup</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TENNISisCANADA?src=hash">#TENNISisCANADA</a> <a href="http://t.co/ghlMNG9wvq">pic.twitter.com/ghlMNG9wvq</a>—@Tennis_Canada
'Played a good match'
As for his part, Giraldo played at a very solid level on the surface he dislikes the most.
"I like slower surfaces like clay, slower hard courts to be able to construct the point," he said. "I played one of the top players today on his favourite surface and played a good match."
Giraldo had two set points in the second set, but Raonic saved the first one with a volley and then Giraldo made an unforced error sending the ball to the net.
On Friday, Raonic beat world No. 90 Alejandro Gonzales, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 — overwhelming his opponent with 30 aces (Gonzales had one). Vasek Pospisil of Vancouver gave Canada a 1-0 lead when he beat Giraldo 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 in the opening match.
Also on the Canadian team were Frank Dancevic, ranked No. 135, and Daniel Nestor, No. 3 in doubles, who played in his 47th Davis Cup tie.
'Very, very difficult'
On Saturday, Pospisil and Nestor lost their doubles match to the team of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 7-6(4), 7-6(7) 6-4 in a close match where the winners won the total of 109 points and the losing team won 102.
Winning the doubles match on Saturday gave the Colombian team some hope before the reverse-singles matches on Sunday, but Colombian coach Mauricio Hadad had no doubt that winning both singles against very well-serving opponents would be a tough order.
"The doubles team kept us in the match, but we knew that winning both singles on the surface that heavily favours Canadian players is going to be very, very difficult," he said.
In the last match, Dancevic, of Niagara Falls, Ont., lost to Alejandro Gonzales, 6-4, 5-7, 2-6.
'Clean up my serve'
Raonic's win on Sunday was crucial, particularly that he wasn't happy with his level of play coming to Halifax from the U.S. Open.
"I have to clean up my serve, find a rhythm and this is what I will be working on for the next few days," he said.
As for the opponent in the World Group, Raonic said: "I am not going to think at all about this right now and probably will even miss the draw. When it comes closer to the tie, I will think about it."
Canada will learn its opponent in the 2015 World Group on Sept. 18, when the ITF will have the draw in Dubai.