Something to Build On
MONTREAL--How close was it?
Not that close.
So while Canada's Vasek Pospisil can take enormous pride today in hanging in there on Centre Court at Uniprix Stadium and trading punches with Roger Federer, neither Pospisil nor anyone watching the match should fool themselves into thinking the 7-5, 6-3 Federer victory was close.
This was Federer's first match since Wimbledon, so sure, he was a little rusty in the early going, particularly in tracking Pospisil's serves. But the masterful Federer, now 30, got the service break he needed late in the first set and then the one he needed early in the second and cruised to the win.
The Swiss has never been much bothered about destroying players early in tournaments, just in managing his game and energies to the point he's ready to give and return serious fire by the quarterfinals and semifinals. He didn't face a break point against Pospisil, and was never threatened.
Still, it was a nice stepping stone for Pospisil, who will move into the top 150 in the world for the first time with his Rogers Cup effort.
"I felt pretty calm out there, to be honest," said Pospisil afterwards. "I knew he played fast, but that's another level of fast. I've never felt a ball go through the court like that, especially his forehand."
As the match wore on, Pospisil was pushed further and further behind the baseline on rallies.
"It's not easy to get on the offence against him too often," said the 21-year-old Canadian. "My plan was to concentrate on my game, hit my targets, play the ball rather than the occasion or the player.
"Obviously, that's easier said than done."
Along with Milos Raonic, Pospisil makes Canada the only tennis country in the world with two players 21 years of age or younger in the top 150.
The key for Pospisil, just as it was for Rebecca Marino after her strong effort in a defeat to Venus Williams at last year's U.S. Open, will be to build upon both his first round upset of Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela and the experience of going toe-to-toe with Federer.
He has the serve and forehand, and he has a world class volley. Pospisil clearly benefitted from his play for Canada in a Davis Cup tie against Ecuador last month, and he'll likely get another opportunity next month against Israel with a World Group berth on the line.
Before then, he'll try to qualify for the U.S. Open singles later this month. Right now, he's at about the same point Raonic was a year ago. Now the question is whether we'll be talking about a Pospisil surge upwards in the rankings this time next year.