It was the final day of the Davis Cup for all the countries and, in Montreal, it was a determining tie that was played under the sun of the Stade Uniprix, in temperatures closer to fall than to summer, but in a very festive ambiance, as the biggest crowd of the weekend gathered to (loudly) encourage Canada’s n° 1 player, Milos Raonic, to win the fourth rubber and seal Canada’s stay in the World Group for 2013.
Everyone present, at least on the Canadian side (there were, after all, a few South African fans in the crowd), were quickly rewarded, as Milos Raonic was quick to break Izak Van Der Merwe in the first game of the match. It didn’t help Van Der Merwe’s cause that, visibly hampered by his bad back, he made two double faults just in the initial game.
Raonic didn’t waste time in taking the first set. Breaking for a second time in the seventh game, he served it out nicely to get ahead, 6-2, in 33 minutes.
The second set was quite a copy and paste of the first, only two minutes shorter.
In the third, Van Der Merwe fought with the little energy he had left and tried to make it as close as possible, but in the end, he couldn’t stop the inevitable and Milos Raonic ensured that Canada’s would stay in the World Group two consecutive years for the first time since 1991-1992, 6-2 6-2 6-4, in the general happiness of the team and the crowd.
It was a great match from Milos Raonic. On serve, he was aggressive, even though he did not serve his best (58% of first serves and “only” 13 aces – and five double faults – for the match). It is in his overall play that the Canadian surprised the most, keeping the ball in play as much as he could and attacking whenever he had a chance to do so.
Of course, he was somehow helped by the little opposition he got from his opponent, who really couldn’t play at the measure of his game because of a back injury. Nevertheless, it was one of the best matches I’ve seen Raonic play this season, in the overall game. This shows that he is, indeed, improving some areas of his game and is learning not to rely only on his serve, although it was his choice weapon that got him out of a few tricky situations today.
The last match was a dead rubber, which Frank Dancevic won comfortably, 6-2 6-2, over Nik Scholtz, completing a 4-1 win for Team Canada.
My impressions on the tie and words from the players and team captains.