By Erik Gudris | Thursday, September 3, 2020
Vasek Pospisil ended the US Open hopes of his countryman and former junior rival Milos Raonic with a stirring surprise upset win.
Photo credit: @USOpen
Vasek Pospisil has made more news off the tennis court of late, but that didn’t stop him from earning a surprise upset win to reach the US Open third round for the first time in his career.
In an all-Canadian clash of former junior rivals, Pospisil pulled off the 6-7(1), 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-3 upset of 25th-seeded Milos Raonic.
“I just felt as the match went on, I felt a lot more comfortable, and I found a really good groove and I was moving really well,” Pospisil said. “He’s serving incredibly well, but I felt like I got a relatively good read on his serve. Then the key for the match today on my end was that I was serving extremely well and able to hold my service games with relative comfort, which made it a little bit easier, you know, for the rest of the match.
“To play a Canadian obviously is always tricky, right? I mean, especially someone like Milos who I’ve known for basically my whole tennis career. We grew up together, we were the top two in Canada for our same age group. We’re the same age, so obviously we have a bit of a history, for sure.”
It was a big day in New York for team Canada.
On a day in which the Brooklyn Nets announced Canadian superstar Steve Nash, a former two-time NBA MVP and a die-hard tennis junkie, as their new head coach four Canadian men—Felix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov, Pospisil and Raonic—were in the US Open second round. That’s the most Canadian men in a major second round in 61 years.
Pospisil, currently ranked No. 94 in ATP singles, is probably best known at the moment for being one of the leaders of the new, breakaway players union, the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA), alongside world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
In a tense and sweaty encounter, Pospisil withstood 29 aces from Raonic, ripped 20 aces of his own and scored the only two breaks of the match to reach the US Open third round for the first time.
Raonic, a former Wimbledon finalist, entered as a potential dark horse contender for the US Open title after having reached the Western & Southern Open finals last weekend losing to nemesis Djokovic in a tight title match.
Both men entered this second-round meeting knowing each other’s game very well having played together on Canada’s Davis Cup team. Raonic led the head to head 2 to 1 with wins both in an historic semifinal in their native ATP Masters event in Canada in 2013 and then later in the Washington, D.C. final in 2014.
Though Raonic was the favorite in this match, Pospisil entered with some momentum of his own. Before the season was shutdown, Pospisil enjoyed solid results during the indoor hard court swing. That included reaching the Montpellier finals, and reaching the quarters of both Rotterdam and Marseille.
Raonic managed to squeeze the opening set tiebreak in convincing fashion 7-6(1).
Yet, Pospisil looking relaxed throughout the match time and time again pulled off well executed serves, returns, and the occasional incredible get out of nowhere.
— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) September 3, 2020
Pospisil took a medical timeout at the start of the second set, and that seemed to energize his whole game. Taking advantage of a service break midway through the set, Pospisil went on to close out the set 6-3.
Serving with command on pivotal points was key to Pospisil’s second straight win over Raonic following a 7-6, 7-5 triumph in Antwerp two years ago.
“I guess my game plan going in was what it was the last time I played him when I was able to win, as well. I just wanted to take time away,” Pospisil said. “Obviously serving well is really important. I felt like in the first set I wasn’t quite dialed in, and I wasn’t really hitting through the court as much as I would have liked to and felt like he had a little bit too much time.
“Then I tried to make that adjustment early on in the second set. He’s just one of those guys that you can’t, you know, you can’t give him time. He has a very heavy ball, he’s a really big guy, and he’s got big strokes. If you can play quick, then that’s better. That’s easier said than done, because he obviously has a huge serve, and a lot of power. So it’s not always easy to accomplish that game plan, but I was able to do that again today.”
Raonic struck several untimely double faults late in the match. In the third set tiebreak, a Raonic double fault allowed his opponent to secure a two sets to one lead.
If Raonic hoped his serve would allow him to force a final fifth set, it was in vain. Pospisil, feeling total confidence in his abilities, pulled off several incredible shots down the stretch.
What a shot from Vasek Pospisil! #USOpen
He’s up 2-1 on Milos Raonic heading into the 4th set. pic.twitter.com/Q0Zc9RvZOo
— TSN Tennis (@TSNTennis) September 3, 2020
In the eighth game of the fourth set, Raonic once again struck a double fault while down break point. Pospisil now had the opportunity to serve out the match, and he did not waver.
With his 20th ace of the match, Pospisil closed out the convincing win.
Pospisil will next face No. 8-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round. The Wimbledon semifinalist is playing for his first trip to the Flushing Meadows fourth round since 2015.