Raonic gives defending champ Canada early lead over Finland at Davis Cup

Milos Raonic gave Team Canada the early edge over Finland with an 18-ace performance on Tuesday at Davis Cup.

Milos Raonic / 2023 Davis Cup Malaga / Manu Fernandez/AP/SIPAa Milos Raonic / 2023 Davis Cup Malaga / Manu Fernandez/AP/SIPAa

Former world No 3 Milos Raonic has given Team Canada a 1-0 lead over Finland in Davis Cup quarter-final knockout play. The 32-year-old Ontario native, jumping into action for captain Frank Dancevic’s squad when Felix Auger-Aliassime was ruled out due to injury, raced past Patrick Kaukovalta 6-3, 7-5 on Tuesday in his first Davis Cup rubber since 2018.

True to form, Raonic banged home 18 aces and dropped just three points on serve across the full 67-minute contest. He never faced a break point and converted two of five opportunities – one in each set – to claim the victory over 715th-ranked Kaukovalta.

Raonic: “It a great feeling”

“I served well, take care of my serve, and I created quite a few opportunities. Yeah, just kept putting myself in good positions and it worked out pretty well,” Raonic said.

It has been a resurgent season for the former Wimbledon finalist. Raonic returned to the tour in June for the first time in two seasons, compiling a 4-4 record that featured a first-round win at Wimbledon and a trip to the round of 16 at the National Bank Open in Toronto.

Kaukovalta, who replaced Finland’s No 1 Emil Ruusuvuori (injury), was making his first Davis Cup singles appearance; Raonic improves to 17-5 in Davis Cup singles and 19-6 overall in the international team tennis competition.

Canada won the Davis Cup for the first time in 2022, defeating 28-time Davis Cup champion Australia in the final behind the handiwork of Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov.

“It’s a great feeling, great feeling especially considering the success that both the teams, men’s and women’s, have had this last 12 months,” Raonic said, referring to Canada’s triumphs at the Davis Cup (2022) and the Billie Jean King Cup (2023). “To be here alongside these guys, contributing and trying to just enjoy it, you appreciate these moments a lot more once there is not as many of them [left].”

Virtanen vs Diallo next

Tuesday’s second rubber features Otto Virtanen of Finland against Canada’s Gabriel Diallo, with Finland needing the win to stay alive in the quarter-final tie.

Three more quarter-final knockout ties will take place before Friday’s semi-finals in Malaga. Czechia will face Australia on Wednesday, while Italy will face the Netherlands and Serbia will face Great Britain on Thursday.

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