2014/12/22

Raonic Set to Take on Hewitt in Round of 16 match at Citi Open

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

 

By Dave Gertler

(July 31, 2014) WASHINGTON, DC – Last year’s Citi Open in Washington, D.C. played a crucial role in the lead-up to what would be Milos Raonic’s first appearance in a Masters 1000 final. At the time, he was still ranked outside the top 10, had never made it past the round of 16 at a major, and promptly bowed out to Australian journeyman Marinko Matosevic in the second round.

 

“I didn’t play well here last year,” said Raonic of his reasoning for returning to this year’s event, “And I really would not have wanted to start off Montreal that way. So I think even though I had a poor result last year, it helped me a lot with the result in Montreal. I think it’s a positive for me to come and play here.”

 

The Montenegro-born Canadian earned his first single-figure ranking in March and, given his transposition to a higher echelon of men’s tennis this year, is now within striking distance of the top 5, especially considering the rest of the year will play out on his favorite surface – hard courts – and in his home continent of North America.

 

“After spending four months of playing tennis where I’m adjusting to figure out the surface,” said Raonic about his transition to the hard courts of the Emirates US Open Series, “It’s a surface I come to and I don’t have to worry about – ‘OK, in this situation, I gotta hit this shot’ – I have that stuff sort of ingrained in myself naturally.”

 

In his first match in D.C. last night, Raonic served 16 aces against Jack Sock on his way to a straight-sets win over the American. In a match characterized by the consistency that has helped the Canadian to five career ATP 250 titles, the 23-year-old Canadian served an even eight aces in both sets, and only allowed his opponent three points in each of the tie-breaks they played.

 

In their third round match tonight, Raonic will face a significant obstacle in the form of Lleyton Hewitt, who as well as winning their only meeting so far, is also the tournament’s last remaining former champion. A lot has changed since their 2012 meeting at the Australian Open, including Raonic reaching the semi-final of the most recent slam.

 

While the No.2 seed seems to have shifted his focus towards winning majors, he has not made the final of any tournament since September 2013, something Hewitt has done twice, winning both times and bringing his overall career tally to 30. While Hewitt’s slam-winning days are arguably behind him, the Canadian is focused on his own upward career trajectory, and the opportunity to go deeper in the next slam. “I can do much better than I did at Wimbledon,” said Raonic, “And that doesn’t put me far away from giving myself an opportunity to win that tournament.”

 

In other men’s round of 16 matches at the Citi Open today, Vasek Pospisil takes on top seed Tomas Berdych while American Donald Young plays Denis Istomin.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering Citi Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer Advance to Wimbledon Final

 

(July 4, 2014) Top seed Novak Djokovic will face No. 4 Roger Federer for the Wimbledon final on Sunday after semifinal victories on Centre Court on Friday.

Novak Djokovic overcame a second set charge by Grigor Dimitrov to move into his third Wimbledon final in four years, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (7). For the 11th seed Dimitrov, who reached in his first major semifinal, had a 10-match winning streak snapped by the Serb.

Djokovic broke serve to go up 3-1 and held on to take the set 6-4. Dimitrov, after going down a break in the second set 1-3, with his girlfriend Maria Sharapova in attendance, the Bulgarian reeled off five straight games to even the match at a set apiece.

Djokovic came back with a more aggressive game, while the 23-year-old Dimitrov had serving woes, including a string of three double faults in the third game of the fourth set.

Roger Federer took on the big-serving 23-year-old Milos Raonic in the second of the men’s semis. Federer opened the match by breaking the Canadian’s serve and held on to take the set 6-4, Federer broke in the 9th game of the second set and held for 6-4, a feat he repeated in the third set to complete the win.

“He just played well,” said the Canadian.  “I didn’t put in the serves I needed to.  Normally I start off serving much better, and then he came up with the right shots.

“Pretty much every single time he was leaning the right way.  He was hitting good, deep returns that didn’t allow me to sort of get into it.

“I’m quite disappointed with the level I was able to put out, Raonic added.  “I know I can do much better.

“Obviously I wasn’t expecting by any means to play my best, but I was expecting much better from myself.”

“Well, it’s big in the moment itself because you just don’t know how many chances you’re going to get,” Federer talking about the first break of serve against Raonic.  “I think he was in the lead maybe, 15‑Love, 30‑15.  I didn’t see it coming necessarily, but I grabbed it and then ran with it.

“Because clearly I’m also looking for rhythm on my own serve, so holding for the next couple service games was important for me to stay ahead and somehow get the first set under the belt, which I did, because I don’t think we both necessarily played great in that first set.

“So it was good for me to get it that way.  I just felt like I created some good opportunities when I was in his service games.  Yeah, clearly looking back it’s always going to be big, any break you do, you make against Milos.”

The 27-year-old Djokovic will be going for his seventh Grand Slam title, while Federer will be looking for his 18th, a record 8th Wimbledon crown. Djokovic last played Federer in a major final back in the 2007 U.S. Open final where the Swiss defeated Djokovic in straight sets. Djokovic has lost in his last two major finals, falling to Rafael Nadal at the French Open last month and at the 2013 U.S. Open.

“I came out on the court to win, said Dimitrov.  “Okay, I think I had a pretty slow start, but at some point I think I got my act together and I was really playing a good tennis.”

Dimitrov had a 6-3 lead in the fourth set tiebreak and had he won it, the match would have been extended to a fifth set.

“You never know what would have happened if I had taken that fourth set.  I think at the same time I had my momentum.  It’s just he came on top today, so all the credit to him.”

It may have been a disappointing loss for the Bulgarian, but it’s been a good fortnight for him.

“I think this is the first time for me to be in semifinal of a slam, so obviously to me that’s just positive,” Dimitrov said.  “I’m not going to overanalyze much what’s been happening the past weeks to me because there’s no need for that.

“I think I’m in a good spot at the moment.  I’m practicing well.  I’m doing a good work on and off the court.  I’m focusing really on every match that I’m playing, regardless.  Doesn’t matter what kind of tournament I’m playing.

“It’s a good learning curve for me to put myself in such a position and play against those kind of players and attack the top in a different way.

“Of course, I’m going to have to play even better when it comes to matches like that, but it’s a good lesson for me.  I can take a lot of positives out of all the matches I played out here in England.  It’s been, you know, solid weeks for me.”

Djokovic, who will be playing Federer for the 35th time on Sunday talked about the keys to the match:

“We know each other’s games.  We played many matches on different occasions.  As you said, only once on grass court, but we played so many times in semifinals and finals of Grand Slams, different surfaces, big matches over the years.  They were very exciting.

“And, of course, most of the matches we play against each other went the distance.  So I’m going to be, of course, physically ready and fit to go the distance this time.  Of course, there is plenty of motivation from my side to win this Grand Slam final after losing last three out of four.

Of course, I want to try to, you know, get the title.  It would mean a lot mentally for me.  The key against him in the game, of course, is trying to not allow him to dictate too much because he likes to be very aggressive, he likes to come to the net.

“I’m going to have to be able to get as many returns back in the court and try to also stay closer to the line, protect the baseline.”

 

“We both like to be close to the baseline.  We both like to take charge, especially on quicker courts.  He has a wonderful way of either redirecting or taking the ball early, you know, taking pace from the opponent, even generating some of his own.

“So I think that’s what makes him so hard to play.  There’s not really a safe place you can, you know, play into.  Like back in the day there was many guys where you just knew, Oh, this guy is a bit dodgey on the backhand.  Let me play that and then build up the point from that.

“Novak can hurt you down the line or cross‑court on both sides.  He’s really improved now through the years.  I’ve seen him come through the ranking.  His forehand, his serve, his movement clearly is what stands out the most at this moment now.  He’s really been able to improve that and make it rock solid.

“I think for me it’s really important to stay aggressive against him.  And especially here at Wimbledon it’s more simple how we need to play against each other.  It’s not like on a slow court where you can maybe maneuver the other guy around so much.

“I think on grass it’s a bit more straightforward and I think we’re both aware of that.”

Federer leads Djokovic in head-to-head matches 18-16.

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Novak Djokovic to Play Ernests Gulbis in the Semis of Paris

 

Djokovic on court 321-001

(June 3, 2014) Novak Djokovic will play Ernests Gulbis for a place in the French Open. Both men had straight set wins on Tuesday to advance to the semis.

No. 2 Djokovic stopped No. 8 Milos Raonic 7-5, 7-6(5), 6-4. Djokovic stands two winning matches away from claiming his first French Open title completing a career grand slam and returning to the No. 1 spot.

Ernests Gulbis broke the “curse” with his win over Tomas Berdych – the last eight players to beat Roger Federer at a major tournament lost the very next match. The 25-year-old Latvian reaches his first major semifinal and extends his current winning streak to 13.

“It’s very special,” Gulbis said in an on-court after the match. “Today was the best match of the tournament. I did everything well.”

 

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Canadians Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic Reach Roland Garros Quarterfinals

88 Raonic

(June 1, 2014) For the first time in history, there will be two Canadians in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam after Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic had dominating fourth round wins on Sunday at Roland Garros.

Raonic became the first Canadian man in the Open Era to reach the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 win over Spaniard Marcel Granollers. The 23-year-old Canadian broke serve on four occasions and saved both break points that he faced. He hit 54 winners compared to just 14 from his opponent. Raonic advances to his first major quarterfinal in his fourth attempt. He will face world No. 2 Novak Djokovic of Serbia on Tuesday. Djokovic dominated Jor-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 on Sunday.

“I think I played the important moments well,” said Raonic of his win on Saunday. “There were a few moments where I’d be up quite handily on my serve, and I’d sort of drift away for a little bit, but when it came down to the wire I was playing those moments well.”

“I’m very eager and I’m looking forward to that,” Raonic said of facing Djokovic. “Especially after two weeks ago, to be putting myself in that situation to get to play him again.”

 

Bouchard

Bouchard dominated Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-1, 6-2 in 52 minutes over world No. 9. It is her third Top 10 victory of the year and ninth win a row. She hit 30 winners with 11 unforced errors.

“I really believe in my skills. I believe I can play with the best girls out there,” Bouchard said in press. “I was really mentally prepared for anything, for a battle. I think that mindset kind of helped me.”

Bouchard will try to reach her second major semifinal when she plays No. 14, Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro. Suarez Navarro beat Bouchard in the third round of Wimbledon last summer. Bouchard is the first Canadian since Helen Kelesi in 1989 to reach the quarterfinals of the French Open.

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Milos Raonic Stops Tomas Berdych for Thailand Open Crown

Raonic trophy (1 of 3)

(September 29, 2013) Milos Raonic won his fifth career ATP World Tour title and second of the year at the Thailand Open. The Canadian beat Czech player and world No. 6 Tomas Berdych 7-6(4), 6-3 in the final.

Raonic dominated on his serve nailing 18 aces and winning 95 percent of his first serve.

“I think I struggled a lot more than him at the beginning, he was finding his rhythm better,” the Canadian said. In the tie-break, it just came down to one return and playing pretty sold after that… I started being more aggressive.”

“I think I’m playing great tennis, I’m serving really well, I’m doing a lot of good things. If I keep that up I think I’ll have opportunities and will put myself in a good position, no matter who [I play].”

Berdych praised his opponent: “He was exceptional. He was serving really well and didn’t give me many chances. I served quite well. Basically, the match was about two points. Both of them Milos handled better and so he deserved to win.”

The win puts Raonic 180 points behind Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who is in tenth place, in the Race to London for a spot in the ATP World Tour Finals.

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Richard Gasquet Saves a Match Point En Route to Five-Set win over Milos Raonic

Richard Gasquet

 

(September 2, 2013) Frenchman Richard Gasquet came back from a match point down to stop Canadian Milos Raonic 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (9), 7-5 in the fourth round of the US Open on Sunday night on Court 17. The match lasted 4 hours, 40 minutes.

World No. 8 Gasquet is now 2-15 in major fourth round matches. The win means he’ll be playing the fourth seed Spaniard David Ferrer for a place in the semifinals.

Gasquet last made a major quarterfinal at Wimbledon in 2007.

Milos Raonic’s 39 aces during the match is third all-time at the US Open. The US Open record of 49 aces was set by Richard Krajicek in his 1999 five-set quarterfinal loss to Yevgeny Kafelnikov. Ivo Karlovic hit the second-most aces with 42 in his 2008 second-round straight-sets win over Florent Serra.

 

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Milos Raonic Launches New Balance Line at Ping-Pong Club

(August 21, 2013) NEW YORK, NY. World No. 10 Milos Raonic took on all comers in a game of ping-pong as New Balance launched their new NB Tennis line at SPiN, a Ping-Pong club in Manhattan. One of the Canadian’s opponents was Jim Courier.

Video by Josh Meiseles.

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Montreal Recap – A Tournament Filled With Emotions

Nadal 88

By Dominique Cambron-Goulet

(August 11, 2013) MONTREAL – The last week was full of emotions at Montreal ATP Masters 1000. The great performances of Canadians Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic made of this year’s tournament one of the most memorable here in Montreal.

The final might not have been as exciting as the semifinals tennis-wise, it will be remembered for sure by both players. “It’s always special for me to play in Montreal, because I won my first tournament on hard here in 2005”, said Rafael Nadal right after the match.

Raonic will also remember what he qualified as a “stepping stone” of his young career. “The standing ovation I received when I entered the court was the best moment of my career”, he said with a trembling tone in news conference. It’s also with the runner-up points that he’ll become the first Canadian to ever figure in the singles top-10.

The fans, will never forget the emotions provided by the matches of six Canadians in the main draw, the Andy Murray’s upset on his first appearance after Wimbledon and the two third set tiebreakers semifinals, including an all-Canadian one.

The 2013 Montreal Masters had lots of world premieres, upsets and crowned a winner that wasn’t expected at the beginning of the American hard court season. We’ll see if Cincinnati and the US Open will bring us their share of records and milestones as well.

Some Milestsones

–          John Isner’s loss against Vasek Pospisil knocked the Americans out of the top-20 for the first in history of rankings.

–          Due to his presence in final, Milos Raonic is the first Canadian to get in the top-10 in history of rankings.

–          Vasek Pospisil climbed up 31 ranks with his presence in semifinal to reach 40th place.

–          Rafael Nadal wins four Masters in a year for the second time of his career. He has three tournaments left to even Novak Djokovic’s record of five titles in a year.

“To win here, I have to be playing my top level. Very happy the way that I played almost every match in this tournament,” Nadal said. “Is very important for me, this title. Just very happy for everything.”

“I feel I have an advantage, but not enough to say that I am the favorite, Nadal said of his his lead in the ATP race for the year-end top ranking. “On this kind of surface, Novak is really good. [There] remains three Masters 1000s, one Grand Slam, [Barclays ATP World Tour Finals] – more favorable surfaces for him than for me. So we are talking about 6,500 points.

“We have to realize how many points I have to win to be No. 1. I think I will not be No. 1 if I have less than 10,000 points at the end of the season. Today I have 8,000. I need to win minimum 2,000 more. That’s very difficult in this part of the season, but I’m going to try.”

Dominique Cambron-Goulet has been teaching tennis for ten years and is now a journalist in Montreal.

Photos by Marc-André Gauthier

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Perfect Scenario for Rogers Cup Final Weekend in Montreal

Nadal wins

By Charles David Mathieu-Poulin

(August 10, 2013) MONTREAL – The Montreal fans are particularly fond of two things, tennis-wise: big charismatic stars exuding passion and local players battling it out like there is no tomorrow. Therefore, no one could have set up a better scenario than the semifinals played in Montreal on Saturday. And the matches delivered, both ending in third set tie-breaks.

While the Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic showdown wasn’t a surprise and was actually expected and hoped for when the draw came out, the Milos Raonic-Vasek Pospisil match revived the patriotic flame of many: it was the first time since 1969 that a Canadian reached this stage and the winner would be the first Canadian finalist since 1958!

The two Davis Cup teammates were the first to hit the court in the afternoon, under perfect weather for tennis: sunny, breezy and a touch chilly. The atmosphere was just as perfect, with a packed crowd of over 12,000 anxious fans, hesitant about for whom to cheer for as if they were asked to choose between their (tennis) children.

Milos Raonic was the favorite on paper, but was also the one with all the pressure and it showed in his on-court manners: while he was stone-faced and focused, Pospisil was vocal and animated and clearly had nothing to lose in this encounter.

As it often happens when two players that know each other well face off, the level of play wasn’t spectacular. Both players seemed nervous from the get-go, and most points were decided either on unreturned serves or unforced errors. Raonic was the first one to draw blood and break, and he rode the way until finishing up the forgettable 6-4 set on an ace.

Raonic 88

The second set followed a totally different route: Pospisil started receiving better and being more aggressive, and Raonic seemed lost in his defensive role. While the underdog was getting pumped up, the 11th seed seemed frustrated and about to give up the set. Breaking twice, Pospisil leveled things off, wining the second set 6-1.

Raonic then retreated to the locker rooms, in the hopes of breaking the rhythm and changing the momentum. He later admitted in his post-match interview that he ‘yelled at [himself] to let the anger out, but not too loud as there was someone else in the bathroom’.

The third set saw some better play and built up quite the drama. While Pospisil got closer in more of Raonic’s serve game, the favorite never got broken and led in the score all set, as he was serving first. Vasek was solid serving under pressure, bringing the set to a tiebreak. Raonic stormed to an early lead with two mini-breaks, but Pospisil immediately erased them with inspired play. Clearly nervous, the serve speeds started dropping, especially on Raonic’s side, but he remained more solid off the ground and closed out the set, reaching his first ever Masters 1000 final and entering the top 10 for the first time of his career. He becomes the first ever Canadian male player to achieve that feat, a fact that made him quite emotional after the match.

His final opponent was also decided in a nail-biter under the lights. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had played 35 times in the past, and their match-up always leads to spectacular rallies and intense battles. While Nadal was coming into this match undefeated on hardcourts in 2013, Djokovic had won all their encounters on this surface since 2010.

Nadal stormed off to a two break lead, as his consistency was too much for the Serb. Djokovic started finding his range late in the set, erasing one of the breaks, but it was too little too late as the 4th seed won the first 6-4.

The second set started with close games and intense rallies, and the drama peaked with an umpiring mistake. With Djokovic serving at 5-3, when Nadal challenged a call and was right, the score was announced wrong. While both players and the umpire agreed that it was 30-all, the scoreboard mentioned 40-15, and the crowd was raucous towards the mistake. The chair umpire, remaining silent, lost control over the crowd, which seemed to affect Djokovic who lost the following (very important) point. But when he saved it and then leveled off the match, we knew we would be treated to a dramatic third set.

Following a similar pattern than the first semifinal, both players, who had been broken two times each until then, managed to hold until a third set tiebreak. The stand-out moment happened in the middle of the set when Nadal hit a backhand pass directly at Novak in a heated net exchange: when the Spaniard tried to apologize, Novak looked away in frustration, adding to the already high tension.

The tiebreak proved to be quite an anticlimactic end to a fantastic match. Despite losing the last game to love, the Spaniard played inspired tennis, enjoyed a few loose points from the first seed, and rapidly built a huge 6-0 lead. While Djokovic saved the first two on impressive winners, he hit a ball just long on the third match point, handing Nadal his 21st win against the Serb.

Nadal will be looking to win his third Rogers Cup in Sunday’s final against Raonic. The crowd is expected to be strongly behind the Canadian, especially as, for the first time, fans will be able to get in the Uniprix Stadium grounds to watch the final on a big-screen, Henman Hill-style. It will be a fitting end to one of the best ever editions of the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Charles David Mathieu-Poulin blogs for WtaQuebec www.wtaquebec.com, a website promoting local Quebec players. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Montreal for Tennis Panorama News. Follow him on twitter @earthstroke, follow his Montreal coverage on @TennnisNewsTPN.
RESULTS – SATURDAY, 10 AUGUST 2013

Singles – Semi-finals
[4] R Nadal (ESP) d [1] N Djokovic (SRB) 64 36 76(2)
[11] M Raonic (CAN) d [WC] V Pospisil (CAN) 64 16 76(4)

Doubles – Semi-finals
[3] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) d M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) 62 76(3)
C Fleming (GBR) / A Murray (GBR) d [6] R Lindstedt (SWE) / D Nestor (CAN) 63 60

SCHEDULE – SUNDAY, 11 AUGUST 2013

CENTRAL start 12:30
C Fleming (GBR) / A Murray (GBR) vs [3] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA)

Not Before 15:00
[4] R Nadal (ESP) vs [11] M Raonic (CAN)

 

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Home Advantage: Top 10 Best Canadian Crowd-Pleasers in Montreal

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By Charles David Mathieu-Poulin

(August 7, 2013) Montreal – In the wake of possibly the best day, week and year in Canadian tennis history, we look back at the top 10 wildest, craziest and loudest performances of local players at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. The victories that led to standing ovations, chants and waves, Montreal-style. The ones no one expected. The ones we all remember.

10. Frédéric Niemeyer, 2009

A seasoned veteran, Frédéric Niemeyer had announced in 2009 that he would retire at the end of the year. When the Rogers Cup draw came out, everyone hoped for him to face Roger Federer, his long-time friend, in the second round as his farewell match in Montréal. After beating Kunitsyn in the first round, Fred played a tight two set match against a classy Federer, who let him enjoy the spotlight. One of those well-deserved feel-good moments we all enjoy.

Eugenie Bouchard

Eugenie Bouchard

9. Eugenie Bouchard, 2012

While Eugenie ‘Genie’ Bouchard is now on the brink of becoming one of WTA’s biggest stars, she still was fairly unknown to the casual Canadian fans in early 2012. After winning Junior Wimbledon and the Granby Challenger, she came to the Rogers Cup full of confidence and with all eyes on her. Her first round match on a packed Center Court against Shahar Peer seemed like a tough task, but the Montreal-born blonde kept her composure to win 7-5 in the third, to the delight of the adoring crowd. After a tight two-set loss to Li Na in the second round, everybody knew it was the start of a long love affair between Genie and Montreal.

8. Sébastien Leblanc, 1997

Sébastien Leblanc was best known for his doubles skills: paired with fellow Canadians Sebastien Lareau and Greg Rusedski, he won three consecutive Junior Doubles Grand Slams in 1990 and got up to number 127 in the senior doubles rankings. So when he came out at the 1997 Rogers Cup to face Tim Henman, then ranked 18th in the world, the expectations were low for the 885th ranked Canadian, playing his first ATP match of the year. The first set was decided in a tiebreak, where Leblanc had the lead early and never looked back after a string of unforced errors from Henman. The second set stayed tight until the end, and while the ecstatic applause seemed to get in Tim’s head, he managed to level the match by breaking late in the set. In the third, playing aggressive tennis and rushing to the net, Leblanc broke for a 5-3 lead, and finished the match on a spectacular plunging dropshot volley winner. Leblanc would end up losing easily in the next round and retiring a few months after, but this remains a fuzzy-yellow-ball Cinderella story to be told.

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7. Milos Raonic, 2009

When Milos first stepped on the Montreal courts for the 2009 qualifying draw, he was a tall, lanky, a-bit-awkward giant with a big serve. He surprised everyone by beating Gabashvili and Llodra to qualify, and set up a night match against feisty world No. 10 Fernando Gonzalez in the first round. Only experience separated the two, and “Gonzo” ended up winning after saving a match point in the second set tiebreak, but the rowdy National Bank crowd which got the first taste of Milos-mania. It was the first sign of brilliance from Milos, who actually is now a tall, lanky, a-bit-less-awkward giant with a big serve.

6. Aleksandra Wozniak, 2012

Aleksandra Wozniak is the most successful Quebec player ever to step on a tennis court (being ranked as high as 21), but the Blainville native had never really shone at the Rogers Cup, coming in the 2012 main draw with a 3-9 record. After serious injuries, she was on the way back up in 2012, but a tough draw was ahead of her. After scraping through Daniela Hantuchova in the first round, she upset Jelena Jankovic easily in the second round and beat Christina McHale in the third round before losing to her nemesis Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals. It was a great moment for Aleks who got over her mental block in Montreal, and a great moment for the crowd enjoying their protégé’s long-awaited local success.

5. Simon Larose, 2003

Simon Larose was known on the ATP circuit as a talented but party-oriented fellow. Living up to his reputation, rocking a mohawk tucked under a bandana, he came to the Montreal 2003 Rogers Cup ranked at number 315. While everyone was looking forward to his blockbuster first round against Gustavo Kuerten, nobody expected more than a decent-but-outrageous showing from Larose. Outrageous it was, but decent it wasn’t: playing superb tennis, Larose upset the former number 1 and Grand Slam champion in a tight two-setter, falling on his knees in disbelief after match point. Riding the wave in the next round, he beat Jose Acasuso in a thriller, coming back from 1-3 in the third set, setting up a meeting with legend Andre Agassi in the third round. Despite losing 6-4 6-2 after having a 4-1 lead in the first, Larose had the best tennis week of his life and became a household name in Montreal. The after-tourney party was probably epic.

4. Stephanie Dubois, 2008

Stephanie Dubois is a feisty competitor that fuels on the crowd’s energy. She therefore has created over the years a mutual agreement with Montrealers: the more they cheer, the more she fights, the more they chant, the more she wins. After reaching the third round in 2006 due to a Kim Clijsters retirement, Steph brought the crowd to its feet by repeating the feat two years later. While the match wasn’t memorable, her first round against Govortsova was played in a bizarre environment: after waiting for hours to start the match due to a rain delay, the players came out of the locker room well over 10pm, acclaimed by a very small but raucous crowd, excited to finally see some action. At one point, the stadium fire alarm started ringing for a what seems like forever: while the players were seated waiting for it to stop, a smart supporter yelled ‘Steph is on fireeeeeeeee!’, leading to an overall laughter. Dubois kept the fire going in her second round against Maria Kirilenko, arguably her best win ever, a match which had superb shot making, long rallies and will stay in the books as one of the most inspired Canadian performances in Montreal.

Pospisil

3. The 2013 Crew

Mark the dates: August 5th-6th, 2013. In previous years, the Montreal crowd would get excited when one or two Canadians would sneak into round 2. So when five local players won their first match (and the other lost a close three-setter against a top 15 player), there was an overall sense of excitement on the Stade Uniprix grounds. It all started on Monday night, when newly- minted Canadian Jesse Levine upset Xavier Malisse, while Peter Polansky played an inspired match despite losing to Kei Nishikori in front of a chanting and waving Center Court. It was a sign of things to come, as the long, tedious, overdramatic wins kept on rolling the next day: Filip Peliwo, Frank Dancevic,  Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic all moved through despite being a few points away from defeat. So who will go the furthest down the draw and make this same list in 2033?

2. Sébastien Lareau, 1999

Sébastien Lareau was the proud flag-bearer through a few dry years for Canadian tennis in the late nineties and early noughties, notably in doubles. The Montreal tournament, which he called ‘My Wimbledon’, saw him get the best single wins of his career. In 1999, he came in the tournament ranked at 116. After winning his first round in two sets against Justin Gimelstob, he had a tough task ahead of him in Richard Krajicek, 5th seed and 7th in the world. When the Dutchman won the first set 6-4, everyone thought logic was followed. But the crowd got into the match, probably as intensely as ever, and when Krajicek doublefaulted at 4-6 in the tiebreak, the entire stadium exploded in strong applause and a standing ovation. The magic atmosphere helped Lareau stay on top of the wave, and after missing three match points while serving for the match in the third, a final service winner handed him the biggest match of his career. He lost in three tough sets to eventual winner Thomas Johansson in the next round in another dramatic thriller, but he rekindled the Montreal love for Canadian tennis, which in itself is the best feat of all.

Dancevic

1. Frank Dancevic, 2007

Everyone agrees that Frank Dancevic is more talented than what his résumé suggests: often injured, the Canadian never really had the chance to blossom into the player he could have been. The best example of this is the 2007 Rogers Cup, where he went on a string of fantastic results, to the delight of the Montreal crowd. Juan Martin Del Potro, Wayne Odesnik and Fernando Verdasco all were honorable victims of Frank’s big serve-and-volley game and all three matches went deep in the third set. The quarterfinal match against none other than Rafael Nadal seemed like just icing on the cake, but Frank had other plans in mind. On this Friday Night, where the entire city had its eyes turned to tennis, Dancevic stormed through the first set, breaking in the last game, to the disbelief of most. With a perfect attacking game and a surprisingly strong backhand, Frank was dreaming of the upset, but the fatigue of the week (and Nadal’s well-known fighting spirit) got in the way, as the last two set went straightforwardly to the Spaniard. It was the first time since 1989 that a Canadian reached the quarterfinals, a feat repeated by Raonic in 2012, but for Dancevic it was ‘the experience of a lifetime’. And we’ll all remember it.

Charles David Mathieu-Poulin blogs for WtaQuebec www.wtaquebec.com, a website promoting local Quebec players. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Montreal for Tennis Panorama News. Follow him on twitter @earthstroke, follow his Montreal coverage on @TennnisNewsTPN.

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