February 10, 2012
Raonic dominates France's Benneteau
By Richard Zussman, QMI Agency
Red and white looks pretty sharp on Milos Raonic.
The budding Canadian tennis star dominated France’s Julien Benneteau, winning in straight sets 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 to even their tie at one match a-piece during the Davis Cup Friday.
“When it mattered I got the balls in play, I put the pressure on him, I was holding quite comfortably, it felt really good,” said Raonic.
The Thornhill, Ont. native used his powerful serve to control the tempo of the match but most importantly to restore the confidence of the sold-out crowd at UBC’s Thunderbird Arena. Earlier in the day, France’s top player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga knocked off local favourite Vasek Pospisil 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.
Raonic got the fans back into the action blasting 24 aces and 63 winners past Benneteau. The 21-year-old set up his victory with a huge break late in the third set to take a 6-5 lead. The biggest roar from the crowd came in the next game, when Raonic closed the match with an ace.
“It is amazing, the people have been unbelievably supportive. It is great for us to know this is the kind of effect Canadian tennis has had,” said Raonic.
The win set the stage for an exciting weekend. Canada needs just two wins to pull off the major upset against one of the world’s top tennis teams. Pospisil will take the court Saturday with veteran Daniel Nestor in doubles action against Benneteau and Michael Llodra.
Sunday is reverse singles, with Raonic and Tsonga, the top-ranked players from each side, squaring off first. Benneteau and Pospisil will play if necessary to complete the tie.
Team captains can make lineup changes up to an hour before each match. France has star Gael Monfils sitting on the bench nursing a knee injury. In the event’s opening news conference, the world’s 13th-ranked player said he was ready to play this weekend.
The winner of this weekend’s tie advances to the World Group quarter-finals against either Switzerland or the U.S.
Before the matches got underway Friday, Tennis Canada organized a moment of silence for Matt Altizer, his wife Leah and their children, Jonathan, 14, and Emily, 12, and Altizer's sister, Heather Kress. The family was killed in a car crash Thursday driving from Prince George in Northern B.C. to Vancouver to watch the Davis Cup this weekend.