In a historic all-Canadian ATP final – the first in the open era – Milos Raonic prevailed over his Davis Cup teammate Vasek Pospisil 6-1, 6-4 on Sunday at the Citi Open in Washington, DC.
Winning the ATP World Tour event marked the sixth title for Raonic, who will look to repeat the hard court achievement in Toronto, where he opens in the Rogers Cup on Wednesday following a first round bye.
For Pospisil, who will also return to Canadian soil to contest in Toronto, it was a justifiably slow start on Sunday having played against two opponents a day earlier.
The reigning Wimbledon doubles champ with American partner Jack Sock, Pospisil had to finish a rain-delayed quarterfinal match on Saturday that carried over from the previous night. After disposing of Colombian Santiago Giraldo, five hours later the 13-seeded Canadian had to face Richard Gasquet, winning again in three sets 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 7-5.
Gasquet and Pospisil will meet again in the first round in Toronto.
Raonic, the second seed, beat Donald Young 6-5, 7-5 en route to the final.
On Sunday, Raonic quickly broke his compatriot twice in the first set to take a commanding 4-1 lead before winning the set without dropping a single first serve point.
Pospisil showed signs of fighting off fatigue in the second set. Down love-30 in the fourth game, Pospisil fought back and hit a huge forehand winner to tie the set 2-2. The crowd got behind Pospisil with chants of “Let’s go Vasek” understanding the challenging situation the player faced. Both men held serve until the decisive game when Raonic broke serve to take the title.
Following the match Pospisil congratulated his opponent during the trophy presentation, saying Raonic “came out firing and I wasn’t quite ready for that.”
He acknowledged the crowd and thanked them for “(pulling) him through” an unorthodox week.
Raonic will move up one spot to sixth in the world this week, tying his Canadian benchmark in men’s singles tennis rankings.
The champion reciprocated warm feelings toward Pospisil, saying “I know you’ll lead on to a much better second half of the year and the numbers will keep going up.”
A large throng of Canadian supporters had gathered in the background of the trophy presentation with flags unfurled. Raonic turned to them and said “Canadians here, Canadians back home – where I’m looking really forward to playing back in Toronto – thank you.”
Both Raonic and Pospisil made their Olympic debuts at London 2012. The two rising stars are expected to be in Canada’s Davis Cup team when they host Colombia in September for a chance to make the World Group in the 2015 tournament. The matches will take place from September 12-14 in Halifax.