MONTREAL, CANADA: Milos Raonic has put Canada right back among the world's tennis elite, securing Canada's return to the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group with a dominant win over South Africa's Izak van der Merwe on Sunday.
The world No. 15 won the first three points on his way to breaking the South African No. 1 in the first game.
Raonic broke van der Merwe again to go up 5-2 and never looked back on his way to a 62 62 64 win in the fourth rubber that gave Canada its third point and an insurmountable lead.
"I came out and did a lot of things well and played on my terms and did what I wanted to do," Raonic said.
The decisive rubber was played in a crisp 1 hour, 45 minutes. Raonic fired 13 aces to two by van der Merwe.
"It doesn't inspire confidence when you lose your serve in the very first game," said van der Merwe, who played three of his country's first four rubbers. "He hit a great shot to break me there so he really stepped up his game today and played well, and he deserved to win."
Frank Dancevic made it a 4-1 win for Canada with a 62 62 victory over South Africa No. 2 Nikala Scholtz in a 55-minute fifth rubber.
"We started off great and we finished great," Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau said. "As you saw Frank, it mattered for him, it mattered for the team to keep sending messages out there to other teams that we have a lot of depth and hopefully we can have a full team as healthy as we had this week.
"For the first time in a couple of years we went through the week without any injuries, we finished the tie without any injuries, so when all of our players are healthy and competitive I think we can take on a lot of teams at the World Group level."
Canada, which lost at home to France in February in Vancouver, will learn its next opponent when the draw is made on Wednesday for the 2013 edition of the Davis Cup.
Raonic said that the best part of getting back to the World Group was "getting another shot."
"I'd like to play at home so it doesn't matter who," Raonic said. "I think that I play well here and I think we can play well here."
South Africa, which won the Davis Cup in 1974, fell short with a play-off loss for a fourth straight year and has not played in the World Group since 1998.
After a dominant display by Canada on the opening day that saw them take a 2-0 lead there were few who would have thought that South Africa would still be in with a shout on the final day.
Van der Merwe and Raven Klaasen shocked Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil on Saturday to give the visitors some hope on Sunday, however it didn't last long as Raonic needed just one hour 45 minutes to clinch the third point for the hosts.
South Africa was without its two top players. Kevin Anderson, who is ranked 37th, declined to play and Rik de Voest was sidelined by a wrist injury.
That did not explain the result for van der Merwe.
"We went into this tie thinking we could definitely win three points," van der Merwe said. "I think we've shown that if you can get the doubles point and if our injury woes were a little different we could have been right in there. So from that point it's disappointing, even though Rik was out. It wasn't an ideal weekend for us but we gave it our best."
John-Laffnie de Jager (RSA) - 16/09/12
Captain Martin Laurendeau (CAN) - 16/09/012
Milos Raonic (CAN) - 16/09/12
Izak van der Merwe (RSA) - 16/09/12