UPDATE: Raonic beats Nadal, Pospisil in doubles final at Indian Wells

UPDATE: Raonic beats Nadal, Pospisil in doubles final at Indian Wells

Milos Raonic served notice that he will be looking to crash the ‘top four’ party in men’s tennis this season, after he pushed world number three Rafael Nadal out of Indian Wells 4-6, 7-6 (12-10) 7-5.

At the season’s first Masters 1000 event in the ATP World Tour, Raonic, the number six-ranked player in men’s singles, settled down after a plethora of unforced errors under the California sun.

Nadal couldn’t put Raonic away in the second set and paid dearly in the third when the underdog got the break he needed before serving out the quarterfinal match to secure a semifinal date against no. 3 Roger Federer on Saturday.

Raonic’s win wasn’t the only good news for Canadian tennis on the night. The first triumph was followed by Vasek Pospisil and his American partner Jack Sock beating Marcin Matkowski of Poland and Nenad Zimonjic (Serbia) 6-4, 3-6, 10-6 to book a place in the men’s doubles final also set for Saturday.

Milos Raonic in action at Indian Wells, California in a Masters 1000 tournament in March, 2015.

Milos Raonic in action at Indian Wells, California in a Masters 1000 tournament in March, 2015.

Nadal had a furious start to the quarterfinal contest, breaking Raonic’s second service game amid winning 11 consecutive points. The rest of the opening set went without a hitch for the Spaniard, who won 6-4 after strategically standing several metres back of the baseline to defend against Raonic’s 220 km/h serves.

Raonic later talked about the “ups and downs” of the match, and although he only dropped one game, for more than half the match it looked like Nadal would be unbeatable, reaching just about every ball on the court, placing some returns inside the baseline from seemingly impossible angles.

Nadal’s defensive strategy held Raonic to just 11 aces in the first two sets, but the Canadian’s return game improved toward the sharp end of the second, holding off five break points to force Nadal into a tiebreak. There, the two men closely stalked each other by trading shots. Raonic stared down three match points, his serves found consistency and a mini-break allowed him to win the second set 7-6 (12-10).

“The most important thing I can take from this is the way I competed,” Raonic told the tournament organizers following the match. “There was a lot of difficult moments, a lot of ups and downs in that much. I just tried to stick it through and try to make the most of every possibility.”

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In the final set, Raonic faced a break point at 3-3. What could’ve been a pivotal moment against the Canadian, Raonic again turned it around with superb composure to hold serve. At 5-5, he broke Nadal when the Spaniard missed a return before closing out the two hour, 58-minute contest on double match point.

“It’s obviously great,” the Canadian said. “It’s great on its own to keep myself pushing on to the semifinals here in Indian Wells for the first time, and also the big significance of getting my first win over Rafael Nadal. It’s all in all a good day.”

Raonic’s serve seemed to break Nadal down as the match went on. He landed eight aces in the final set for a total of 19 on the night. It was also his first win over Nadal in six meetings.

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Scott Harrigan
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