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Pospisil, Raonic to meet in semis

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MONTREAL -- Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil are headed to a semifinal showdown at the Rogers Cup.

Canada's top two men's singles players won their quarter-final matches Friday at the US$3.49-million tournament, continuing a rare run of success for homegrown players at the country's biggest tennis event.

They will face each other today with a berth in Sunday's final on the line.

Pospisil became the first Canadian since Mike Belkin in 1969 to reach the final four of the event, once called the Canadian Open, when his opponent Nikolay Davydenko retired due to illness. The Vernon, B.C., native led 3-0 in the first set.

Raonic, the 11th seed, rode the spirited support of the centre court crowd for a 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-4 victory over Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, who had taken out second-seeded Andy Murray on Thursday.

It will be the first meeting between Raonic and Pospisil in an ATP Tour tournament. Pospisil holds a 3-1 edge in their four meetings in lower level events, but Raonic took the most recent match in 2010.

"Exciting match," said Pospisil. "Two Canadians in the semifinal, one guaranteed to be in the final. It's a historic moment for tennis in Canada.

"We obviously know each other very well. Since we were little kids. You've got to give the edge to Milos, for sure. I have the edge in terms of head-to-head (matchups), but things have changed in the last two years. My run here doesn't change anything here in terms of that. But we'll see how it goes."

The other semifinalists were to be decided later Friday, when top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays seventh-seeded Richard Gasquet of France and fourth-seeded Rafael Nadal of Spain faces Australian qualifier Marinko Matosevic.

The last time a Canadian was in the final was 1958, when Robert Bedard won the last of his three titles.

In the past two years, the hard-serving, 22-year-old Raonic has risen to No. 13 in the world rankings, a record for a Canadian.

The 23-year-old Pospisil has taken a slower path, but is on a roll of late.

He won a Challenger series tournament last week in Vancouver, then kept it going with wins over John Isner, Radek Stepanek, fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych and Davydenko, a former world No. 3 who is now ranked 47th.

The run included his first win over a player ranked in the top 20 in Isner and his first over a top-10 player in Berdych.

Not bad for someone who needed a wild-card entry to get into the tournament because he wasn't ranked high enough for direct entry.

He is already assured of winning $128,960 and gaining at least 360 points, which will take him from 71st in the world into the top 50. One benefit is that he already has an exemption into the main draw of a tournament in Cincinnati next week.

"The money's nice, but it's not about that," said Pospisil. "I set goals for myself.

"I'm thinking bigger picture. This is a huge week for me points-wise. I'm going to make a really big jump regardless of how the match goes (Saturday). I'm excited and I'll try to use the confidence I have and keep playing well."

The 20-minute match against Davydenko was ideal for Pospisil, who didn't get a lot of sleep while getting from Vancouver to Montreal and then had to grind through some tough matches.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 10, 2013 C4

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