Pospisil opens with upset over Colombian No. 1 Giraldo; Raonic’s victory puts Canada one win away from clinching tie
Halifax, September 12, 2014 – The Canadian Davis Cup team will be taking a 2-0 lead into the second day of play in its Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Play-off against Colombia at the Halifax Metro Centre in Halifax after both Vasek Pospisil (Vancouver) and Milos Raonic (Thornhill, Ont.) opened the tie with singles victories on Friday. Pospisil started the team off on a strong note by defeating Colombia’s No. 1 player, world No. 32 Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-3, before world No. 7 Raonic then gave Canada the stranglehold over Colombia with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Alejandro Gonzalez.
Pospisil took the first advantage of his match in the sixth game, breaking Giraldo to take a 4-2 lead he would not relinquish. Though the second set saw Giraldo turn the tables and go up 4-2 by taking Pospisil’s service game for the first time, it was a short-lived lead as the No. 2 Canadian broke right back. In the ensuing tiebreaker, the world No. 43 quickly earned a mini-break and maintained control of the match from that point on. Serving 15 aces in total and going three-for-four on break points, Pospisil clinched the triumph in two hours and seven minutes and earned his second straight victory over Giraldo. His first came in the quarter-finals of Washington last month, where he made his first-ever ATP World Tour final.
“It was a good match, I’m happy I won,” Pospisil said. “It was not easy. The court is really fast so it’s tough to set up your shots sometimes but I thought I played well in the big moments of the match. And when I was down in my service games, I came up with some good serves. I played well when I needed to.”
After making it through a couple of tough early service games – he saved five break points – Raonic was mostly untroubled by first-time Davis Cup player Gonzalez in a straight-sets win. The 23-year-old played a superb second set, in which he made 79 per cent of his first serves and lost just two points on serve. Raonic, who has now captured nine of his last 10 Davis Cup singles matches, blasted 31 aces through the one hour and 45 minute contest to put his team one win away from clinching the tie.
Raonic and Pospisil played in front of 5,062 fans in the Halifax Metro Centre. This Davis Cup tie is the first time the event has been played in Halifax since 1998, when Canada played Mexico in Americas Zone Group I action, and both Canadians remarked on the positive effects of the crowd’s support.
“I think [the crowd] helped me get into the match at the beginning when I was struggling in my first two service games,” Raonic said. “It helped me find my groove in the match. Thankfully I played well, in a lot of ways the match was always in my favour in that sense, so there weren’t too many chances for them to be super rowdy, but when they had the opportunities, they did and that helps.”
“In the past I would maybe get too excited with the crowd support so I tried to control that better today and save some energy and use them at the right time for the big moments of the match,” Pospisil said. “I think I did that really well, and it’s a huge advantage to have crowd support like that and I feel really comfortable playing in Canada and I think that showed again today.”
Canada now just needs one victory to secure its place in the elite 16-team World Group for a fourth straight year. The winner of this tie will earn a spot in the top category of the competition for 2015, while the loser will drop down to Americas Zone Group I. Canada has not played in the zonal stage since 2011, while Colombia has never reached the World Group before.
“It was a good effort today to win six straight sets,” said Canadian Davis Cup team captain Martin Laurendeau. “With a quick court, things happen quickly and sometimes a set can go either way down to a final point, in a tiebreaker, or break points later in a set. Things went our way, our guys put up a good effort. It was a good day at the office. Tomorrow we have a tough assignment. Those guys can play and they don’t mind these courts too much in doubles so it’ll be a tough one to earn.”
Play will resume on Saturday at 2 p.m. ADT with the doubles match, scheduled to feature Canadians Daniel Nestor (Toronto) and Pospisil against Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah. The team captains have until one hour before the match to change their nominations. The tie will conclude on Sunday with the two reverse singles matches, scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. ADT.
A limited number of tickets to the matches on Saturday and Sunday are still available and can be purchased online at www.ticketatlantic.com, at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office or charge by phone at 902-451-1221 or toll free 1-877-451-1221. A pep rally will take place again at Grand Parade just west of the Halifax Metro Centre on Saturday and Sunday starting at 12 p.m. ADT.
The matches are being broadcast live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports. Please check local listings for the full schedule. Live scoring and daily on-site blogs from respected tennis journalist Tom Tebbutt can be also found at www.tenniscanada.com.