Milos Raonic Becomes First Canadian Man to Reach Wimbledon Final

The country of Canada does not have a large tennis pedigree, to say the least–at least in singles. Daniel Nestor is Canada’s most accomplished tennis player, but he has done it all in doubles. In the more-respected one-on-one singles version of the game, Canadian tennis success has been hard to come by.

Canada is currently in the middle of what many are calling its tennis “golden age”, with several up-and-coming players beginning to make names for themselves. It starts with Milos Raonic on the men’s side and Eugenie Bouchard on the women’s. Both have seen success as youngsters, with Bouchard being the first Canadian of either gender to reach a Grand Slam final when she did so two years ago at Wimbledon. Bouchard has been in a definite slump for the past two years, though, so it is up to Raonic to step up. And now he has.

Milos Raonic Becomes First Canadian Man to Reach Wimbledon Final

Raonic keeps on ticking off the career accolades and setting new Canadian tennis records as he goes on. He is the highest-ever ranked Canadian singles player. His eight titles are more than any other. He became the first Canadian man to reach a Grand Slam semifinal when he did so at Wimbledon two years ago. He faced Roger Federer in that match as well and failed to advance past the Swiss, losing in straight sets.

Raonic has now advanced past that to a brand new milestone, doing so in brilliant fashion on Friday. Fans from all over Canada got up to watch, with some on the Western end of the country rising as early as 5 AM to watch their man attempt to make history.

Raonic’s serve, as it was all tournament, was incredible. The tall Canadian’s serve has always been difficult to return; Raonic has now developed a much more comprehensive game around the court to back it up when someone does manage to get the serve back. There is no tougher challenge in tennis, though, than beating Roger Federer on Centre Court at Wimbledon, and it showed throughout this match.

Raonic opened up the match strong, breaking Federer and holding through to win the first set 6-3 with ease. The second set was a much tighter affair, with Federer beginning to make inroads on the Raonic serve. Raonic held throughout, though, but Federer took the set in a tiebreak. Federer continued to attack the Raonic serve in the third set, earning a break and taking that set 6-4.

The fourth set was tense for Canadian fans as Raonic struggled to hold serve and it looked like Federer was often inches away from breaking and taking the match. Raonic fought off three break points in the set. When he finally carved out three break points in the 12th game of the set, he took the third and pushed this match to a fifth set.

There was a lot of history going against Raonic in this match. The Canadian had a 2-9 career head-to-head record against Federer coming in to the match. Federer had a 10-0 career record in Wimbledon semifinals. No Canadian man had ever reached the final of Wimbledon–or any Major, for that matter.

None of that mattered once the final set started. Raonic was holding his serve well early in the set and Raonic earned the break in a marathon fourth game, ending in an incredible point at net. Now Raonic was just three holds away from history, and the only thing in doubt was if he could keep his nerves in check for the duration of the match. Raonic showed no trouble and no hesitation, other than one shaky double-fault, and served out the last three games for an historic 6-3 win of the set and the match.

With this win, Raonic becomes the first Canadian man to reach a singles final in a Major. On Sunday, he will have the opportunity to become Canada’s first Grand Slam winner in singles, man or woman. It truly is the Golden Age of Canadian tennis, and the big-serving Yugoslavian-born Raonic, who grew up in Ontario, is fully leading the charge.

Raonic will face Andy Murray in the final on Sunday.

Main Photo: