The Davis Cup suddenly matters, thanks to hometown tennis pro Milos Raonic

The Davis Cup suddenly matters, thanks to hometown tennis pro Milos Raonic

Remember when Canadians actually cared about the Davis Cup? Neither do we. But this year, with Milos Raonic’s meteoric rise through the ranks of the men’s professional tennis tour, the Davis Cup suddenly seems relevant and interesting. Take Canada’s triumph over Mexico this weekend. Riding Raonic’s dominant play, the Canadian contingent handily won its first-round Americas Zone Group One best-of-five series. The 20-year old from Thornhill sealed the victory for Team Canada with a straight-sets defeat (7-5, 6-3, 6-2) of Mexico’s Daniel Garza, giving the Canucks a decisive 4-1 edge and pushing them through to a second-round matchup with Ecuador, scheduled to take place in early July. The winner moves on to the World Group playoff and a chance to reach the World Cup.

Sure, it’s small potatoes now, but the Davis Cup is a big deal on the world stage, and Raonic’s play is turning heads across the globe. And now he’s even turning heads at home. We look to the Montreal Gazette (anybody home at the Star?) for the story:

Raonic’s spectacular start to the 2011 season prompted Rogers Sportsnet to make the decision to broadcast nationwide the Canadian Davis Cup team’s matches from Mexico starting Friday at noon on Sportsnet One.

Tennis Canada officials couldn’t remember the last time Canadians had a chance to watch their Davis Cup team compete in the annual international tournament, other than a one-off broadcast in 2003.

Sportsnet and Tennis Canada officials also acknowledge that Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., is the reason the Davis Cup is on Canadian TV for the first time in eight years.

What’s more, last month, Sportsnet made a last-minute decision to show Raonic’s winning performance in the final of an ATP Tour event in San Jose, and roughly 56,000 viewers turned in. Then, when Raonic lost a thriller to the U.S.’s Andy Roddick in the final at Memphis a week later, the audience jumped to almost 160,000.

Not too shabby for a kid who was, for the most part, completely unknown 10 weeks ago.

• Raonic lifts Canada over Mexico at Davis Cup [Toronto Star]
• Raonic making tennis must-see TV in Canada [Montreal Gazette]