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Raonic tops Pospisil in 1st all-Canadian ATP final

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WASHINGTON (AP) — With a red-and-white maple leaf flag draped on the table in front of him, and a crystal trophy nearby marking his victory in the first all-Canadian ATP final, Milos Raonic already was thinking about what’s up ahead.

Thanks to a dominant serve and an increasingly versatile game, the second-seeded Raonic earned his sixth career title by beating 13th-seeded Vasek Pospisil 6-1, 6-4 on Sunday at the Citi Open.

Not allowing himself much time to celebrate, Raonic planned to fly to Canada later Sunday for Toronto’s Rogers Cup – another chance to demonstrate on hard courts that he is ready to follow up his semifinal showing at Wimbledon with a deep run at the U.S. Open. The year’s last Grand Slam tournament begins Aug. 25.

“Sometimes I can get caught up in what the next goal is – the bigger goal,” said the 23-year-old Raonic, who will equal his career-best ranking Monday by rising one spot to No. 6. “And that’s about not losing too much energy this week, being the best I can tennis-wise and physical-wise and mentally for next week.”

He did not drop a set in Washington, winning 52 of 53 service games, saving 7 of 8 break points and hitting 83 aces, topping 140 mph (225 kph). Against Pospisil, he hit nice aces, saved the only break point he faced and converted four of his own.

“You can’t read his serve at all. You kind of have to play the guessing game, because it’s so accurate and fast,” said Pospisil, whose ranking will jump from 36th into the top 30.

It was the first time two men from Canada played each other in a tour final in the Open era, which began in 1968, and flags from the country dotted the stands on the outskirts of Washington.

“That kind of atmosphere has been more consistently following us around the world. It’s great to see that,” Raonic said. “Not that many people knew there were this many Canadians in Washington.”

Speaking by telephone from her office in Toronto before Sunday’s match, Tennis Canada President and CEO Kelly Murumets said: “The beautiful irony is that it’s a final between two Canadians in (the U.S.) capital. I love that irony.”

She quickly added: “I said that with tongue in cheek.”

In the Citi Open women’s final later Sunday, two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia won her first WTA title since 2010 by beating unseeded Kurumi Nara of Japan 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

For the 24-year-old Pospisil, who won the men’s doubles title at Wimbledon last month, this was his first ATP singles final. He played a bit like someone overwhelmed by the occasion – although Pospisil insisted he wasn’t, instead chalking up uneven play to fatigue after spending more than 3 1/2 hours on court Saturday, when he finished his rain-interrupted quarterfinal before winning his semifinal.

The 36th-ranked Pospisil was broken in the opening game Sunday, when the air was muggy and the temperature topped 80 degrees (27 Celsius).

In the next game, Raonic’s double-fault gave Pospisil his only break point. But Raonic yanked that chance away with an ace and two service winners.

When Pospisil missed a cross-court forehand to get broken and trail 4-1, he smacked a ball angrily, and it bounced into the stands.

Yes, Raonic is becoming an increasingly frustrating opponent. He received well, including a stinging backhand return winner to earn his first break point. He volleyed well. He produced passing winners, including a cross-court backhand on match point.

This was his biggest title, although Raonic ranked it as his “third or fourth” greatest accomplishment.

But he said it was not the same as his previous titles.

“This one’s different,” Raonic said, “in the sense (that) now I … believe I can give myself a chance to win any and every tournament.”

Raonic tops Pospisil in 1st all-Canadian ATP final

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Milos Raonic easily won the first all-Canadian tournament final in ATP history, erasing the only break point he faced and beating Vasek Pospisil 6-1, 6-4 Sunday at the Citi Open for his sixth career title.

The second-seeded Raonic produced serves topping 140 mph (225 kph) and broke Pospisil four times at the hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open. The year’s last Grand Slam tournament begins Aug. 25.

Raonic, a semifinalist at Wimbledon last month, earned $316,400 for the victory and his ranking will rise one spot Monday to No. 6, matching his career high.

The ATP said it was the first time two men from Canada played each other in a tour final in the Open era, which began in 1968, and red-and-white maple leaf flags dotted the stands on the outskirts of Washington.

During the trophy ceremony, Raonic thanked “the Canadians here; the Canadians back home.”

“I felt,” Pospisil said, “like I was playing in front of a Canadian crowd.”

This marked a noteworthy occasion on a personal level for Pospisil, too: It was the first ATP final of his nascent career. And he played a bit like someone who might have felt overwhelmed by the occasion – or perhaps like someone who was fatigued after spending more than 3 1/2 hours on court a day earlier.

Pospisil earned two victories Saturday to reach the final, finishing a rain-interrupted quarterfinal in the early afternoon, before edging Richard Gasquet in the semifinals about 7 1/2 hours later.

Pospisil started slowly Sunday, when the air was muggy and the temperature topped 80 degrees (27 Celsius). He was broken in the opening game, when he missed a couple of forehands and sailed a backhand wide.

In the next game, Raonic’s double-fault gave Pospisil what would be his only break point. But Raonic yanked that chance away with the serve that semifinal opponent Donald Young likened to a “Get out of jail free” card in the board game Monopoly. Raonic hit a 125 mph (202 kph) service winner, a 136 mph ace (219 kph), and a 132 mph (213 kph) service winner.

In all, Raonic hit nine aces, raising his total for the week to 83. He held 52 of 53 service games in the tournament.

When Pospisil missed a cross-court forehand to get broken and trail 4-1, he smacked a ball angrily, and it bounced into the stands.

Yes, Raonic is becoming an increasingly frustrating player to face. He did more than hit speedy serves Sunday. He received well, including a stinging backhand return winner off a 126 mph (203 kph) serve to earn his first break point. He volleyed well. He came up with the occasional passing winner when Pospisil ventured to the net.

Sunday’s matchup was part of a recent surge for their country in tennis.

At Wimbledon, Raonic became Canada’s first man in a Grand Slam semifinal, while Pospisil paired with Jack Sock of the U.S. to win the men’s doubles title. Another Canadian, Eugenie Bouchard, was the women’s runner-up.

Speaking by telephone from her office in Toronto before Sunday’s match, Tennis Canada President and CEO Kelly Murumets said: “The beautiful irony is that it’s a final between two Canadians in (the U.S.) capital. I love that irony.”

She quickly added: “I said that with tongue in cheek.”