Milos Raonic has won the ATP 500 event the Citi Open in Washington. The second seed won the all-Canadian final, beating 13th seed Vasek Pospisil 6-1, 6-4 in what was a clinic in both serving and producing the best tennis possible in a big final.
Raonic could not have asked for a better start as Pospisil made one unforced error after another to give up his opening service game. The first time ATP tour finalist did his best to break back, taking Raonic to deuce in the next game, but Raonic served his way out of trouble.
Pospisil was unable to get a grip on his game, continuing to error, perhaps feeling the effects of playing four sets the day before and finishing his grueling semi-final match late at night. Raonic meanwhile was on top of his service game and his return game, too, winning 9 out of 10 of points on his second service return, and the second seed cruised through the first set 6-1.
The first set over in such a flash, Pospisil’s nerves seemed to settle as quickly, and the second set was more of a battle. Raonic continued to serve at the top of his game, while Pospisil’s own serve improved, and his ground game, too. Early in the second set, a couple of forehand winners from Pospisil drew enthusiastic applause from the crowd, happy to have a match on their hands as Pospisil looked set to do his best to take the final into a deciding set.
However, while Pospisil was now able to win his own service games, he was not able to get into Raonic’s. The second seed hit nine aces and won 93 percent of points behind his first serve.
But at 4-5, serving to keep his title hopes alive. Pospisil was championship point down. He tried to stay in on his own terms, rallying to Roanic’s backhand, keeping him at the back of the court, and then approaching the net to end the point, but Raonic, whose groundgame has improved considerably this year, sent a backhand passing shot past Pospisil for a winner.
Raonic tried to console his fellow Canadian at the net, but Pospisil was inconsolable and berated himself as he sat down courtside. Raonic meanwhile was all smiles, and understandably so. The second seed moved back up to his career high of number six with the win, and added the biggest title of his career to his resume in what is proving to be the year he not only improves his ranking, but his game, too. Raonic hit 23 winners to 13 errors in the match, a sign he is no longer just all about the serve, but has developed a well-rounded game.
This season, that hard-work to improve his game has seen Raonic make the fourth round of the Australian Open, the quarter-finals of the French Open, and the semi-finals of Wimbledon. With his huge weapon of a serve, the biggest in the top ten, his improved net game and back-court skills, the chances of him making the finals of the U.S Open are high.
As for Pospisil, he can take a lot from a great run that saw him defeat Tomas Berdych, the top seed, in straight sets, and come back from a 0-3 deficit in the third set against Richard Gasquet in their semi-final match. He can also take from the final a lesson from his countryman on how to win the big titles in the calmest and most clinical manner. It is a lesson tennis fans expect Pospisil himself will be giving to his lower-ranked peers in the finals of big events sometime soon.
Commentary by Christian Deverille
ATP World Tour