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07 April 2013

Raonic breaks new ground for Canada


By Jeff Paterson

Photo: Fred MullaneMilos Raonic (CAN)

VANCOUVER, CANADA:  Canada’s biggest weapon has delivered the country’s biggest Davis Cup by BNP Paripas victory. Milos Raonic used his booming serve to defeat Andreas Seppi 64 64 36 75 giving Canada a 3-1 win over Italy and a spot in the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time ever.

With a boisterous home crowd behind him, Raonic came out firing early, held serve and managed to get the breaks he needed to take the first two sets. But, as he did in Friday’s singles against Vasek Pospisil when he fell behind 2-0, Seppi settled down in the third set and was able to break Raonic for the first time - and as it turned out only time - in the match.

Undeterred Raonic continued to blast away and eventually broke Seppi to close out the match. Raonic finished the match with 35 aces. It’s the seventh straight Davis Cup singles victory for the world No. 16 who also defeated Fabio Fognini on Friday.

“I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to step up in recent ties and I want to perform under that kind of pressure,” Raonic says of earning the deciding point in this tie just as he did against Spain in February. “It’s a fun experience these Davis Cup weeks. Not just the weekends, but the preparation week is a lot of fun and I think that’s why we’re doing a lot better as well.”

When the victory was clinched a wild on-court celebration broke out with Raonic mobbed by his Canadian teammates Vasek Pospisil, Daniel Nestor and Jesse Levine along with longtime captain Martin Laurendeau. Raonic then circled the court drapped in a Canadian flag as the crowd at the Thunderbird Sports Centre roared with delight.

“It’s hard to believe, but we must believe it now and I think we’ve earned it,” Laurendeau says of advancing this far. “The guys played with a lot of courage. They played to win. And that’s how we’ve been playing at home – very aggressive. And it paid off. All the credit to my guys really.”

For the Italians, it was a disappointing weekend. Had they been able to win Saturday’s marathon doubles they would have taken a 2-1 lead putting pressure on Raonic to win at home to force a fifth and deciding rubber. Instead, Canada won the doubles match 15-13 in the fifth set putting Raonic in position to clinch the tie and that’s exactly what he did with his win over Seppi.

“We lost the doubles which was very, very tough and very, very close but we have to accept the results,” Italian captain Carrado Barazutti says. “Raonic played a great match (Sunday) and we knew that he was going to serve very, very well. We tried hard for sure. We’re upset with these results. We know we have a very, very good team so we know that we have a future. We are ready for another chance. We’re ready to play again in Davis Cup.”

While Italy will have to wait for next year, Canada is off to the next round. The Canadians will travel to Serbia in September to face the 2010 Davis Cup champion which is led by world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

See scores here.

Captain Martin Laurendeau (CAN) - 07/04/2013

Milos Raonic (CAN) - 07/04/2013

Captain Corrado Barazzutti (ITA) - 07/04/2013

Andreas Seppi (ITA) - 07/04/2013

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    Thunderbird Sports Centre, Vancouver, Canada

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