Toronto, Ontario, Canada- Milos Raonic’s 2018 season has been disappointing and frustrating. From lingering injuries calling into question his physical condition, the Canadian hasn’t been able to return to the top form that we saw of him a few years ago.
But in front of a thunderous Canadian crowd at the Davis Cup, Raonic demonstrated glimpses of his former self. Raonic defeated Dutchman Scott Griekspoor in straight sets 7-6 6-3 6-4 to secure the tie for Canada. The win would be a highlight of Raonic’s season, lifting his team to the World Group qualifying for next year.
“I would like to think I am graduating to the leadership role of this team,” said Raonic. “Over the years, just by being the number one player gives me experience in that role. I take a different approach to Daniel Nestor as I am quieter and lead-by-example. But I look forward to the opportunity to be a mentor to the younger guys coming up and using my experience to continue to help in any way I can.”
Raonic Puts on Stellar Serving Performance
Heading into today, Milos Raonic was scheduled to play Robin Haase, who had lost a heartbreaking five-set battle to Denis Shapovalov. As a result of a knee injury that flared up during the Shapovalov match, Haase was unable to play his match against Raonic. Scott Griekspoor, a 27-year old, would take Haase’s spot, playing in his first Davis Cup match. Currently ranked 224th in the world and a frequent competitor on the Challenger circuit, Griekspoor relished the opportunity to give his country a chance at a comeback.
“It was a tough match today, particularly on the short notice finding out I was playing this morning,” said Griekspoor. “Raonic is a fantastic player. He has a big serve and big forehand. I was able to do some good things, but unfortunately had some bad luck in all three sets that prevented me from winning.”
To start the match, it would be Griekspoor to get the first break on Raonic’s powerful serve. But the very next game, the Canadian would break back, showing the tremendous resiliency that helped him when he was broken against De Bakker in the first rubber match. Whenever Griekspoor would save break points and hold serve, as he did four times in the third set, Raonic would come back with an easy hold. His powerful serve allowed the Canadian to always slam the door shut on Griekspoor, generating 23 aces and winning 80 percent of his first serve points.
“I thought Griekspoor played well. He didn’t have much to lose but there are stresses of Davis Cup and trying to stay alive,” said Raonic. “The short notice didn’t bother me that much. I just didn’t know Scott’s game and was able to rely on Felix’s advice about when he played him at a Challenger event.”
Raonic Continues Davis Cup Success
With the win today, Raonic’s success at the Davis Cup continued to grow and evolve. It would be the sixth time that the Canadian won a clinching rubber match at the Davis Cup. On Canadian soil, Raonic improves to 12-1 at this competition, demonstrating that he is starting to morph into the leader of this team.
“Having that comfort level after playing an opening match really helps when competing in the clinching rubbers,” said Raonic. “There was a lot on the line and I always feel that in those crucial moments, I play my best tennis.”
Toronto did itself proud, hosting this Davis Cup tie. From Daniel Nestor being inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame to Shapovalov’s brilliant comeback and Raonic securing the tie, it was a successful weekend for tennis in Canada. Who knows when Canada will host another Davis Cup match? With the new format change, the possibility of the same emotion, the same raucous crowds exuding national pride, will be unlikely.
But for Captain Frank Dancevic, the future is bright for this team. The old generation says goodbye, welcoming in a new squad of talent that has enormous potential to have positive outcomes at future Davis Cups.
“Canada proved that we can beat a tough team,” said Dancevic. “When our guys are playing at their best, they can rise to the occasion on the big stage. With more experience under their belt, the greater the chances are of us being able to win the whole Davis Cup.”