February 1, 2013
Canada on verge of Davis Cup history as Milos Raonic, Frank Dancevic score wins
By RICHARD ZUSSMAN, QMI Agency
VANCOUVER - Canadian tennis is on the verge of history.
In one of the most improbable Davis Cup matches in recent memory Canada’s Frank Dancevic pulled off a major upset in a straight set victory over Spain’s top ranked player Marcel Granollers 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 Friday night at UBC in Vancouver.
The 166th ranked singles player in the world rode the momentum Milos Raonic’s win earlier Friday to give Canada a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five tie. Canada is one win away from making it to the event’s quarterfinals for the first time ever.
“I think this is a revolution in Canadian tennis,” said Dancevic after his match. “We have to go strong. They are going to come out strong tomorrow. We have to finish to the last ball.
“I played the match of my life today. I just played with a lot of confidence knowing I had to go all in today. Every time I had a chance, I went for it.”
Dancevic cruised in the first set, breaking Spain’s top player twice and needed just 25 minutes to put the Spaniard away as fans were still finding their seats. The second set was much of the same for the Canadian, who broke Granollers, ranked No. 34 in the world, twice in the set. The second break of the second set was most critical for Dancevic, who dropped a pair of break points before finishing the game on his third chance.
The third set was more of the same. Playing nearly perfect tennis while being showered throughout the match with shouts of ‘Frank the Tank,’ Dancevic closed with the 5,000 fans at UBC’s Thunderbird Sports Centre on their feet. The final game spanned more than 13 minutes and Dancevic avoided six break points against the Spaniard. After going through seven deuce points, the Canadian closed the match when Granollers’ backhand ended up in the net.
“I had a mission today, just go for it,” the 28-year-old added. “I don’t know if they were expecting me to play this way. I just came in very confident. This is a huge step for me. As you saw, it was difficult to close out the match. I am really proud of my match that I won the way I did,”
Return of serve ended being critical. Dancevic finished the match 6-for-11 on break points and Granollers couldn’t muster a single break, dropping all 13 chances.
The win will register as one of the greatest in the Niagara Falls native’s professional career. Dancevic was on the verge of being booted from the Canadian team two years ago and only played in the tie in 2012 against France because of an injury to Raonic.
He was ranked 65th in the world back in 2007 and nine years ago picked up the final singles win in Davis Cup play over Brazil to get Canada into the world group.
Dancevic and Raonic now have a full day to prepare for their second singles matchday on Sunday. Raonic took care of business in the opening match Friday behind a heavy serve scoring a 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Albert Ramos.
“Wasn’t always the prettiest but thankfully I am through,” Raonic said following the match. “I just put everything aside and focused on winning and I am happy to redeem myself here. As soon as I got that first break at the beginning of the second it allowed me to play a little more freely.”
It took Raonic some time to settle down in front of the sold out crowd. The 15th ranked player in the world struggled through the first hour of the match, hitting the net with a number of routine forehand shots. The set stayed on serve until the tie-breaker and with a chance to pounce leading 5-3, Ramos took over, winning four points in a row to win the set.
But it was a much different and confident Raonic in the second set. The 22-year-old picked up a break in each of the second, third and fourth sets to come away with the victory. The win improved Canada’s top player to 7-3 in Davis Cup singles matches all-time.
Raonic finished the match with 26 aces, including blasts to win the second, third and fourth sets. His serve was steady throughout. Ramos was unable to pick up a break during the nearly three-hour match.
Canada’s first shot to close out Spain arrives Saturday morning. Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil will get the first shot at history tomorrow. The doubles team will take own Granollers and Marc Lopez. The pair is fresh off a semifinal berth at the Australian Open. The reverse singles matches take place Sunday, with Raonic scheduled to take on Granollers and Friday’s hero Dancevic on track to face Ramos.
The winner will face either Italy or Croatia in the quarterfinals in April.
Canada would host either should they advance past the World Group opening round for the first time.