WASHINGTON – Milos Raonic easily won the first all-Canadian tournament final in ATP history, erasing the only break point he faced and beating Vasek Pospisil 6-1, 6-4 Sunday at the Citi Open for his sixth career title.
The second-seeded Raonic produced serves topping 225 kph and broke Pospisil four times at the hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open. The year’s last Grand Slam tournament begins Aug. 25.
Raonic, a semifinalist at Wimbledon last month, earned $316,400 for the victory and his ranking will rise one spot Monday to No. 6, matching his career high.
The ATP said it was the first time two men from Canada played each other in a tour final in the Open era, which began in 1968, and red-and-white maple leaf flags dotted the stands on the outskirts of Washington.
During the trophy ceremony, Raonic thanked “the Canadians here; the Canadians back home.”
“I felt,” Pospisil said, “like I was playing in front of a Canadian crowd.”
This marked a noteworthy occasion on a personal level for Pospisil, too: It was the first ATP final of his nascent career. And he played a bit like someone who might have felt overwhelmed by the occasion – or perhaps like someone who was fatigued after spending more than 3 1/2 hours on court a day earlier.
Pospisil earned two victories Saturday to reach the final, finishing a rain-interrupted quarterfinal in the early afternoon, before edging Richard Gasquet in the semifinals about 7 1/2 hours later.
Pospisil started slowly Sunday, when the air was muggy and the temperature topped 80 degrees (27 Celsius). He was broken in the opening game, when he missed a couple of forehands and sailed a backhand wide.
In the next game, Raonic’s double-fault gave Pospisil what would be his only break point. But Raonic yanked that chance away with the serve that semifinal opponent Donald Young likened to a “Get out of jail free” card in the board game Monopoly. Raonic hit a 202 kph service winner, a 219 kph and a 213 kph service winner.
In all, Raonic hit nine aces, raising his total for the week to 83. He held 52 of 53 service games in the tournament.
When Pospisil missed a cross-court forehand to get broken and trail 4-1, he smacked a ball angrily, and it bounced into the stands.
Yes, Raonic is becoming an increasingly frustrating player to face. He did more than hit speedy serves Sunday. He received well, including a stinging backhand return winner off a 203 kph serve to earn his first break point. He volleyed well. He came up with the occasional passing winner when Pospisil ventured to the net.
Sunday’s matchup was part of a recent surge for their country in tennis.
At Wimbledon, Raonic became Canada’s first man in a Grand Slam semifinal, while Pospisil paired with Jack Sock of the U.S. to win the men’s doubles title. Another Canadian, Eugenie Bouchard, was the women’s runner-up.
Speaking by telephone from her office in Toronto before Sunday’s match, Tennis Canada President and CEO Kelly Murumets said: “The beautiful irony is that it’s a final between two Canadians in (the U.S.) capital. I love that irony.”
She quickly added: “I said that with tongue in cheek.”
© The Canadian Press, 2014