Milos Raonic wins epic all-Canadian Rogers Cup semifinal

Canada's Milos Raonic celebrates his win over compatriot Vasek Pospisil during the men's Rogers Cup...

Canada's Milos Raonic celebrates his win over compatriot Vasek Pospisil during the men's Rogers Cup semifinal in Montreal August 10, 2013. (REUTERS/Christinne Muschi)

BRIAN DALY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:45 PM ET

MONTREAL - The biggest all-Canadian tennis match gave the open era's top-ranked Canadian player a chance for yet more history.

Milos Raonic beat fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (4), on Saturday to reach the Rogers Cup final -- something no Canuck has done since John Diefenbaker was prime minister.

His berth in Sunday's final at Montreal's Uniprix Stadium will also put the Thornhill Ont. native where no Canadian player has ever gone, which is into the ATP top 10.

The world's 13th-ranked player will take on the winner of Saturday evening's Novak Djokovic-Rafael Nadal semifinal.

"It's very special for me to play here," Raonic told the near-sellout crowd after the dramatic tiebreak win.

"That means so much for me. It's been a very important thing, a big objective for me, but it isn't over, there's still a way to go."

Asked if he would prefer to play Djokovic or Nadal, the typically circumspect Raonic simply replied "hopefully (theirs is) a long match."

Raonic knows a thing or two about long matches, as he was pushed hard for the second consecutive day.

Pospisil aced his 22-year-old rival on two of the first three points of the match, serving notice that he wasn't about to concede anything to his more-celebrated friend.

Raonic pushed the world No. 71 to break point in the third game, but Pospisil aced him to hold serve, unleashing his customary strutting celebration on the way back to his chair.

Raonic, comfortable with his new, attacking playing style, approached the net often to give Pospisil less time to react.


WATCH: THE THIRD SET IN ITS ENTIRETY


In the fifth game, Pospisil tried to make him pay for the tactic, wowing the crowd with a passing shot that sailed past his 6-foot-5 opponent.

But Raonic answered right back with a perfect service return out of Pospsil's reach. He came to the net for another winning point to push his rival to break point. Pospisil saved himself, but Raonic broke him on the next point to go up 3-2, with the advantage making the difference in his 6-4 set win.

The tables were turned, decisively, in a second set that was Pospisil's best of the tournament as he twice broke the tour's top server.

The B.C. native dominated Raonic with a strong serve and sizzling forehands, breaking him in the second game to go up 2-0 and again in the sixth game to take a commanding 5-1 lead.

Pospisil sealed the set after an exchange of forehand slices ended with a shot that flew under Raonic's outstretched racket at the net.

He celebrated with another skipping dance to his chair, a common sight by the emotional athlete who beat a top 10 and a top 20 player earlier this week.

It was Raonic's worst set since a 6-0 shutout at the hands of Nadal in April.

The third set on Saturday was punctuated by blistering serves from the two Canadians, who led the tournament in aces heading into the match.

Raonic drew stadium-wide gasps in the fifth game when he aced Pospisil with a 237 km/h rocket.

But neither man managed to push his rival to break point through 12 games, setting up the climactic tiebreaker.

Pospisil blinked first, dumping a forehand into the net in the second game to go down 2-0.

Raonic appeared ready to take control, hitting a cross-court winner to go up 3-0.

But he gave back two straight service games on a double fault and two unforced errors into the net to allow Pospisil to tie it up at 3-3.

Pospisil made a series of his own mistakes that proved to be his downfall, giving up two points on forehands that hit the net, including one that drove him to a 4-6 brink.

Raonic capitalized in the 11th and final game, going to the net for a volley that Pospisil couldn't return.

Raonic celebrated the historic victory with a level of emotion he hadn't shown all week -- or rarely in his career -- jumping up and down and glaring into the crowd with a smile.

Robert Bedard was the last Canadian to make the finals of the Rogers Cup, in 1958, when it was known as the Canadian Open.

The second semifinal between Nadal and Djokovic is the 26th career showdown between two of the top names in modern tennis.

Djokovic is the current world No. 1 and Nadal is a former top-ranked player who leads the tour with seven wins this year.

Also on Saturday, Canadian doubles legend Daniel Nestor and Swedish partner Robert Lindstedt fell 6-3, 6-0 in their semifinal match against Polish duo Mariusz Frystenberg and Marcin Matkowski.

The loss denied Nestor a chance to appear in his fifth career Rogers Cup final.


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