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05 April 2013

Raonic rallies to keep Canada in contention


By Jeff Paterson

Photo: Fred MullaneMilos Raonic (CAN)

VANCOUVER, CANADA: The top players for Italy and Canada took very different paths to the same result as the countries split the first two singles matches on the opening day of competition in their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas world group quarterfinal.

Andreas Seppi rallied after dropping the first two sets to defeat Vasek Pospisil 57 46 64 63 63 earning Italy the first rubber while Milos Raonic salvaged the day for Canada posting a straight sets win over Fabio Fognini 64 76 75.

Seppi, Italy’s top player and world No. 18, was not sharp early allowing Pospisil to gain the upper hand in their match and the boisterous Canadian crowd sensed an upset brewing. But the patience and experience of the veteran showed as the match continued allowing him to eventually find his form.

“For sure, I was not playing my best tennis at the beginning and I was a little bit frustrated,” Seppi said. “I tried after the second set to be a little more calm, a little more positive and I think it worked out pretty well in the final three sets. I was trying to compete until the end and it was a great victory for me.”

With Italy grabbing the early lead, the pressure shifted to Raonic to ensure the home team did not fall behind 2-0 after the first day of play. And Canada’s star was up to the challenge. Playing on his preferred fast surface, Raonic, the world No. 16, made the most of his booming serve unleashing 25 aces against Fognini.

However, for a player known for his big serve, Raonic finished the match by breaking his Italian opponent’s serve.

“I think everything’s going the right way,” Raonic said of his performance following the match. “I’m happy with the way I played. I took care of business which is very important to me and to the team. I think I served really well, especially in the first two sets I didn’t give him any chances. And even in the third set, in the important moments, it created pressure on him. “

As the two countries head to Saturday’s pivotal doubles match, both captains admitted they have decisions to make about the players they will use. As it stands, the match is set to feature veteran Daniel Nestor teaming with Pospisil for Canada against Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi and Daniele Bracciali. The captains have until one hour prior to the match to finalize their rosters.

For Italian captain Corrado Barazzutti, he was pleased with the split on the opening day. Early in the first match, his team was in some trouble, but Barazzutti liked the way Seppi eventually settled into his match against Pospisil.

“We’re at one all which is a great result,” Barazzutti said. “I’m proud of Seppi for sure. I think it was very difficult to play the first match. You know that you have to win it. He didn’t start well down two sets to nothing, but then he played a great match. And for Fognini, he tried to play well, but the difference was Raonic’s serve.”

Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau realizes that his team had a terrific opportunity to take a commanding 2-0 lead on the first day, but remains confident his team will find a way to win two of the remaining three matches.

“It’s a bit disappointing that Vasek couldn’t put Seppi away, but it was a good match from our number two guy and I think it just came down to experience,” Laurendeau said. “Give a lot of credit to Seppi. He didn’t panic and his poise and experience showed. And Milos played a very good match and it was good for him to win in straight sets to level it off at one all. We’re going to take that especially after having lost the first match for sure.”

This is the first time Canada and Italy have squared off in Davis Cup competition. The winner will advance to face the winner of the USA versus Serbia tie which is also deadlocked at 1-1 after the first day of play.

Follow this tie as it happens: Live scores or Watch Live

Captain Martin Laurendeau (CAN) - 05/04/2013

Milos Raonic (CAN) - 05/04/2013

Captain Corrado Barazzutti (ITA) - 05/04/2013

Andreas Seppi (ITA) - 05/04/2013

  • More photos

    • Milos Raonic (CAN)The Canadian bench
    • Fabio Fognini (ITA)Fabio Fognini (ITA)
    • Milos Raonic (CAN)Captain Corrado Barazzutti (ITA)
    • Vasek Pospisil (CAN)Vasek Pospisil (CAN)
    • Canada fansAndreas Seppi (ITA)

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