Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Raonic's booming serve keys win

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BELGRADE, Serbia -- Canada's Milos Raonic turned to his most reliable weapon on Friday after rolling his ankle in a key Davis Cup matchup.

Raonic fought off a match point and the injury in the third set to pull out a five-set victory over Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic to tie the best-of-five Davis Cup at one match apiece.

The 22-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., leaned heavily on his booming serve to avoid testing his taped ankle.

"I felt like playing aggressively was the key. I started serving in the fourth (set) on and starting going for it more," said Raonic. "That helped me survive a lot of tough issues and then just kept plugging away."

Raonic needed four hours 12 minutes to complete the 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 10-8 victory at the Belgrade Arena. Earlier, top-ranked Novak Djokovic had little trouble in a 6-2, 6-0, 6-4 win over Vancouver's Vasek Pospisil.

Of his 34 aces served up in the match, Raonic hit 17 in the fifth set alone.

Raonic appeared to roll over on his ankle near the end of the third set but didn't receive treatment until the changeover to the fourth set. He got the ankle taped before going out to take the fourth set on the strength of seven more aces.

He didn't know the extent of the problem but said he only noticed it on certain movements.

After leaving the arena, Raonic was to receive some treatment and was adamant that he'll be ready for his reverse singles match against Djokovic that kicks off the action on Sunday.

"I won't think too much of it until I get more information," said Raonic. "It's just a waste of energy until I actually know what's actually happening."

Heading into the fifth set there was another longer changeover when the referee called for the clay court to be watered. As a result, the fifth set started with the court still damp.

It's always the referee who has discretion in such matters but Raonic didn't like how the situation was handled.

"I don't think the issue is with it being watered, I think the issue is with how the head referee dealt with it," said Raonic. "I found it very unprofessional without consulting once and just I don't think he did a good job dealing with that situation.

"It's disappointing because I'm sure he's been in that situation many times."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 14, 2013 C8

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