Milos Raonic Wins First Citi Open

By Jane Voigt (August 3, 2014)

Washington D.C. — Canada is not known for tennis. Hockey, yes, but tennis, not so much. But today changed all that.

For the first time in the Open Era of tennis (since 1968) the ATP put on a final that featured two Canadian players — No. 2 seed Milos Raonic and No. 13 seed Vasek Pospisil. 

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Champion Milos Raonic shakes hands with countryman Vasek Pospisil after defeating him 61 64 in the champion at Citi Open. Photo credit Pablo Sanfrancisco

The pre-match fanfare was so loud, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation sent a crew to the Rock Creek Park site to cover the inaugural event. “We usually cover [President] Obama,” said one of the broadcast journalists, as she set down her bags in the media tent.

The timing of the all-Canadian final could not be better for tennis and Canadian tennis in particular. Tomorrow, Rogers Cup begins its main draw matches in Toronto for the ATP players and in Montreal for WTA players. Both men will arrive as heroes, no doubt. 

“It’s great the way I started. I couldn’t have asked for more,” Raonic said about his win. "I had a chance to break in every single game in that first set. I continued to play solid after that. So, all in all a very good performance, and an important moment for me.“

Raonic and Pospisil grew up in junior tennis on the courts of Canada and have been meeting in tournaments since they were 15. Before hitting the big time on tour, Pospisil held the winning head-to-head record. Raonic now leads their rivalry 2-0, their last match being at Rogers Cup last year in the semifinals.  

Raonic becomes the first Canadian champion for this ATP 500-level tournament, as well. 

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Although serious and focused on court during his victory today, Champion Milos Raonic smiles for the cameras holding his first Citi Open trophy. “I hope to be back. It’s definitely in my schedule for next year." Photo credit Pablo Sanfrancisco

Although Raonic felt a combination of happiness and relief, after hitting the winning down-the-line backhand he has no plans to celebrate today. He has a flight in a few hours to Toronto, his home town.

“Funny thing is actually every time I’ve won a tournament it’s because I’ve had a flight in a few hours,” Raonic said, smiling. "I’ve never won when I flew the next day. Maybe I’m going to start booking flights right away after."

Raonic is the leader over the six days in aces — 83 — and service games won. As of yesterday, that stat stood at 98%. He faced one break point today, which he saved, and won 92% of points on first serves. 

“You can’t read his serve at all,” Pospisil admitted. “It’s sort of a guessing game and because it’s so accurate and fast … it’s just a heavy serve. You can’t stand there and react. If you do, you get aced. I think it’s the best serve in the game, right now." 

“I think I’m playing at a high level,” Raonic said. “I think the number I have beside my name is not a coincidence and I wouldn’t be surprised if that were to get lower.”

Raonic is the first player born in the 1990s to break into the top ten. Ranked No. 7 in the world before his win today, he will move to No. 6 tomorrow morning. Additionally, he will tie John Isner for the lead in the U.S. Open Series standings at 70 points. The winner of the Series will earn $1m in extra prize money if they win the U. S. Open. With his runner-up win, Pospisil moves into second place with 60 points. 

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Vasek Pospisil slides into a forehand during the final at Citi Open in Rock Creek Park, Washington D.C., August 3, 2014. This was Pospisil’s first ATP final.
Photo credit Pablo Sanfrancisco

The Citi Open title is Raonic’s sixth overall, but first for the year and first at an ATP 500 tournament. It was his second appearance at the Washington D.C. event. 

Raonic admitted he doesn’t take time to enjoy his victories. Reasons stem from schedule complications and his drive to excel. 

“Sometimes I can get caught up in what the next goal is, the bigger goal … and that’s about not losing too much energy this week and being the best that I can tennis wise and physical wise and mentally for next week."

The historic occasion didn’t get lost on the new Canadian champion. As he went about defeating Pospisil on court in D.C., the match was broadcast to fans on site at the Rexall Centre in Toronto. 

“I felt a lot of pressure and maybe a little bit more to lose in the situation. So I tried not to think about it as the match started. I was happy with the way I dealt with it.”

© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013