Canada moves into quarterfinals after 3-2 win

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By Sandra Harwitt

 

 
Derek Cain Photography derek@derekcainphotography.com

(ISN) – VANCOUVER, CANADA: For only the third time in history Canada has won a Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group tie and did so in dramatic fashion by posting a first tie victory in seven attempts against Japan.

In order to achieve their monumental effort the Canadians had to go the distance, working overtime to orchestrate the 3-2 win over the visitors in Vancouver, BC. And it was Canada’s second chair, Vasek Pospisil, who won the doubles with Daniel Nestor and the decisive fifth point over Go Soeda, that delivered victory.
Riding the wave of the frenetic crowd who rocked the house throughout the weekend certainly helped the host nation find passage to the quarterfinal round where they’ll face Belgium, in Belgium, the weekend after Wimbledon in July.

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Derek Cain Photography derek@derekcainphotography.com

Canada came into Sunday with a 2-1 lead but found themselves on the losing side of the fourth rubber. In a titanic five set battle, No. 4 Kei Nishikori evened the score to 2-2 off of a thrilling 36 63 64 26 64 victory over No. 6 Milos Raonic.
“It’s crazy but I try to think the crowd is for me,” said Nishikori, revealing his strategy. “It’s never easy playing away but I was really enjoying hte match today.”
Nishikori’s three hour, five minute victory bettered his career advantage over Milos Raonic to 5-2 in matches played. They always seem to play epic battles such as their recent three tiebreak set affair that Raonic won in the Brisbane semifinals in January.
Raonic’s loss left it to Pospisil, a native son of Vancouver, to delight the home crowd by bringing in the victory. He did not disappoint as he took care of Soeda, substituted in for Tatsuma Ito at the last minute, 75 63 64.

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Derek Cain Photography derek@derekcainphotography.com

Pospisil rose to the occasion by keeping things simple – he scored one service break in each set, which was all he needed. And then he ended the tie with his 14th ace and on the shoulders of his teammates who trotted their hero around the court.
“I want to thank everyone in the crowd,” Pospisil said. “It seems when I get a little bit tired I play better. I couldn’t have served any better today. It’s been a draining week emotionally. This is really a highlight of the year.”
This marked the second time in Pospisil’s Davis Cup career that he’s clinched a tie for Canada. In the 2011 World Group play-off round, Pospisil defeated Amir Weintraub of Israel to give Canada a 3-2 win.
However, there is no denying that it was the hotly contested match between the two Top Tenners – Nishikori and Raonic – that this tie will be remembered for by fans in years to come.
“It was very much the same as all the other times,” Raonic said. “It was very competitive and a big fight for both of us. It comes down to a few points here and there.”

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Derek Cain Photography derek@derekcainphotography.com

Raonic pocketed the first set with ease in just 34-minutes, serving up 9 aces and 16 winners to one ace and seven winners for Nishikori. All the first set win required was a service break in the fourth game for Raonic to establish a 3-1 lead. The break came on a gift from Nishikori, who at 30-40 netted a forehand to give Raonic control. The Canadian served out the match in style with two aces to finish off the love game.
As expected with these two warriors it wasn’t about to be smooth sailing for Canada.

Nishikori, a patient soul, waited for his opportunity and it came when Raonic was serving at 3-4 in the eighth game of the second set. Finally, not one but three break point opportunities for Nishikori and he took advantage of the third at ad-out with a scorching backhand down-the-line return winner off of a Raonic second serve. Nishikori served out the set at love in the next game to even the score to one set apiece.
Initially it looked as if Nishikori would struggle in the third set, facing a beak point in the second game and two breaks points in the fourth game. But it turned out that it was Raonic who blinked first, allowing Nishikori to take advantage of a second break point at 30-40 in the fifth game with an inside out forehand crosscourt return winner.
Nishikori had two set points on Raonic’s serve in the ninth game of the third set, but had to wait to serve out the match on his own serve. He missed out on his third set point with a stray forehand, but ended the set with an ace. At first his serve was called out, but a challenge revealed it was in and Japan had a two sets to one lead in the fourth rubber.
Raonic was not ready to surrender Canada to a decisive fifth match and put all his effort into sending the outing into a decisive fifth set. He took a 3-1 lead when Nishikori double faulted at 30-40 in the fourth game and saved a break point against his own serve in the fifth game to keep control of the set. An extra service break in the final game of the fourth set seemed to sweetened things for Raonic as he headed into the fifth set.
Unfortunately, however, Raonic could not keep the momentum going and surrendered his serve in the third game of the fifth set to place NIshikori in striking position. But Japan’s finest couldn’t hold onto his lead. surrendering his serve when he netted a backhand in the sixth game to even the score to 3-3. In the end it was Raonic who surrendered when serving at 4-4 – at 30-40 he double faulted to give Nishikori the opening to serve for the match.
“It’s kind of funny that we always play long matches,” Nishikori said. “When he broke me back I was a little bit worried because I thought I had that game. Mentally it was really tough, especially with these big guys you’re not supposed to let a break go. But I tried to stay calm and stay tough. I was waiting for one chance and he gave me a double fault, so it was a little luck.”

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