In the first quarter-final of the Davis Cup final phase between Canada, defending champion, and Finland, Otto Virtanen (171st in the world) equalized for the Finns by beating Gabriel Diallo (139th) 6-4, 7 -5 in the second singles, Tuesday in Málaga.
In this quarter where both teams were deprived at the last minute of their slightly injured leaders, Felix Auger-Aliassime (29th) on the Canadian side, Emil Ruusuvuori (69th) on the Finnish side, Milos Raonic (318th) opened the scoring for the Canadians by beating Patrick Kaukovalta (715th) 6-3, 7-5 in the first singles.
The doubles in the evening will therefore decide the type of this quarter-final.
Against the Canadian No.3, Virtanen, Finnish No.2, made the first break at 1-1 on a superb point, drawing Diallo to the net with a drop shot to better lob it, before breaking away 3-1 not without having himself saved a break point on his commitment.
More solid, more offensive, efficient on serve, piercing with a forehand, Virtanen retained this advantage to win the first set 6-4 in 38 minutes against an opponent capable of brilliant shots but a little tender.
In the second act, the match could have tilted in his favor at 4-4: Virtanen then obtained two break points but wasted them by seeing the ball twice in the net on the forehand.
18 aces for Raonic
He switched a little later to the side of the Finn, who this time converted a new break point by pushing Diallo to the fault after a long rally, before concluding on his serve, scoring an ace — his 14th of the party — on the first match point.
Previously, Raonic, reputed to be a big server at the time of his splendor, demonstrated that he had retained some good leftovers in this area: he set the tone from the start by hitting four aces on the first four points.
In this round, the former world No.3 fell back to the depths of the rankings at 32 after years of blessings, won 20 of the 21 points on his serve, scored ten aces, and made the decisive break at 4-3 , after already having break points at 3-2.
This first set came down to a battle of serves and lasted only 24 minutes.
In the second, the tall Canadian (1.96 m) also managed a break, at 5-5 this time, on a missed volley from Kaukovalt. Before winning the match on his serve, won “white” and concluded with an… ace, his 18th of the match.
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