Milos Raonic retired after losing the first set of his semi-final match against Fernando Verdasco at the Estoril Open today.
EDIT: The 2011 Estoril Open Finals Day will begin tomorrow, 1 May, at 12:30 pm GMT (local time in Portugal - that's 7:30 am Eastern Time) with the Men's Doubles Final (Butorac/Rojer vs. Lopez/Marrero). The Men's Singles Final matchup (Fernando Verdasco vs. Juan Martin del Potro) will start tomorrow, 1 May, at 3 pm GMT, or 10 am Eastern Time. According to Sportsnet.ca, they will be airing the final starting at 2 pm ET on Sportsnet ONE (SN1) and again on SN Ontario and SN East at 8 pm, SN West at 9 pm, and SN Pacific at 10 pm Eastern Time.
As for the match, which unfortunately ended prematurely, Milos was serving well and was hitting plenty of winners compared to Verdasco. The problem was that Raonic was also making a lot errors off both wings. At times he looked visibly uncomfortable and frustrated, even after making a good shot for a winner. The set was fairly close until Raonic was serving at 4-5. Before this game, neither player had earned a single break point on the other's serve. Milos was able to save one break point against him, but Verdasco converted the second chance and took the set 6-4. At this point, Raonic approached Verdasco at the net and shook hands. To the surprise of Verdasco and all the fans, Milos retired.
It was a long day for Raonic, having to finish up a long 3-set match against Gilles Simon earlier this morning. That match was delayed due to rain late in the first set yesterday, and was suspended in the evening when it became too dark to play. According to Raonic's comments after the match, he had felt a tightness in his back that started in the morning and got progressively worse as the day wore on. Instead of pushing through the pain and risking further injury, Raonic opted to retire and focus on his recovery. Presumably, he would rather play it safe and bow out of a smaller tournament rather than continue playing and jeopardize his ability to play in the bigger upcoming ATP 1000 events and the French Open. Probably a wise decision. Of course, that's assuming the problem doesn't linger despite Raonic's preventative measures.
Let's hope this doesn't affect the tournament in Madrid, where Raonic has been given a tough draw. He's up against Feliciano Lopez (ESP) in the first round, and would meet No.3 seed Roger Federer (SUI) should he advance to the next round. Bad back or no, neither match would be an easy one.
It's too bad that Milos had to retire, but he had a good run at the Estoril Open. It's always good to get to a semi-final, and he beat a Top-30 player in Gilles Simon (who was previously ranked as high as No.6 in 2009) to get there. Making the semis in Portugal should give Raonic confidence heading into Madrid and Rome, providing the back injury doesn't keep him from playing his best.
Milos Raonic defeated Gilles Simon in three sets at the Estoril Open, 7-6(4) 4-6 6-3.
The first set was close, with both players earning a single break and taking the set to a tiebreak. Milos edged out Simon in the tiebreak, but couldn't carry that momentum into the second set.
Simon quickly jumped out to a double break lead and was mounting a comeback. But Raonic made a bit of a comeback of his own to break Simon twice to get back on serve. Serving at 4-4, Milos was broken again and Simon would hold to take the second set.
It was Raonic who took the lead early in the third and managed to hold on to it to take the set and the match.
Raonic advances to his first clay court semi-final and will face Fernando Verdasco (ESP) later today, weather permitting. Verdasco came back from a set down to defeat Anderson (RSA) and have a chance to play some real tennis against Raonic on clay.
Milos Raonic's match against Gilles Simon was delayed until late this afternoon due to rain. After it began, it was postponed due to darkness with Milos about to serve at 5-6. Although the players are on serve, each player has been broken once thus far, with Milos saving 0/1 break points and Simon saving 1/2.
The Milos Raonic (CAN) versus Gilles Simon (FRA) quarter-final match will resume tomorrow, 12 noon GMT, or 7 am Eastern Time on Court 1. It's unclear whether Sportsnet will be airing the matches this early, but their website states they will be showing the semi-finals tomorrow, starting at 3 pm Eastern. Best thing to do is check all their channels out at 7 am tomorrow. If they aren't carrying it, find a stream on the internet or check out the live score ticker available here.
If Milos wins his quarter-final match against Simon, he will face the winner of the Verdasco / Anderson match at 4 pm local (11 am Eastern Time) on Central Court. The Verdasco / Anderson match which will be resuming at 12 noon local time in Portugal as well on "Centralito". Verdasco had just enough time to lose the first set in a tiebreak before darkness caused the postponement of that match as well.
Milos Raonic defeated Portuguese wildcard Joao Sousa in straight sets, 6-3 6-3. It wasn't a picture perfect perfomance by Milos, but he held the advantage throughout the entire match and was never really in danger of falling behind at any point.
Raonic got off to a great start, holding at love in his first service game. With Sousa serving at one all, Raonic got the break to take the early 2-1 lead. It wasn't long before Milos opened up the lead with another break to go up 4-1. But in the next game, a string of errors by Milos gave Sousa a 0-40 lead and an opportunity to break back -- which he did on the second chance. Sousa followed that up with a convincing hold, giving the Portuguese crowd something to cheer about. But Raonic still had the single break advantage at this point. Milos got his game back on track and held at love for a 5-3 lead. After Sousa got into a dispute with the Umpire over a line call that went against him, Raonic quickly earned a couple of break points and converted the first one to take the set 6-3.
Things were still looking good for Milos on serve, hitting two aces and holding at love to start the second set. The same could not be said for Sousa, who never really had an easy service game. Sousa dropped serve in his opening game of the second set, giving Raonic the 2-0 lead. Milos kept on rolling, holding at love again to get to 4-1. Sousa was still having trouble on his serve and Raonic broke Sousa again, increasing the lead to 5-1. Milos was a little shaky serving for the match, and dropped serve for the first time in the second set. Luckily, Raonic would have another chance to serve out the match, and this time he would get the job done.
With the convincing win, Milos advances to the quarterfinals at the Estoril Open -- his first quarterfinals at an ATP clay court event. His opponent in the next round will be either No.4 seed Gilles Simon (FRA) or Carlos Berlocq (ARG). As I write this, Simon is currently leading 5-2 in the first set.
UPDATE: Gilles Simon def. Carlos Berlocq 6-2 6-1.
Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that Rogers Sportsnet will be covering the Estoril Open online or on TV. That's kind of a bummer. But there's always the internet...
UPDATE #2: It looks like Rogers Sportsnet will be carrying Milos' quarterfinal match on Friday, starting at (or not before) 11AM ET.
Good luck in the quarters, Milos!
Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated Igor Andreev (RUS) this afternoon in straight sets. The stats for the match were similar for both players except for one important one: Raonic saved 8 of 8 break points and Andreev was only able to save 1 of 3. Milos has shown again that he's able to pull it off under pressure when it counts.
Milos Raonic's 2nd round match-up versus Joao Sousa
Wildcard Joao Sousa (POR) defeated the other Portuguese Wildcard, Gasta Elias, in their 1st round match yesterday. With Elias' retirement when down in the 3rd set 5-2, Joao Sousa earned a 2nd round match-up versus Raonic to take place sometime on Thursday, 28 April (timing yet to be posted).
EDIT 27 April: The Milos Raonic 2nd round match versus Joao Sousa will take place tomorrow, 28 April, not before 2:00pm local time (or not before 9 AM Eastern Time).
San José and Memphis
We all remember back in February when Milos Raonic beat Fernando Verdasco (ESP) back-to-back in the Finals of the SAP Open in San José and in their opening match of the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis. At match point in San José, Verdasco was visibly upset that a spectator apparently ruined the point by yelling during Milos' tournament-winning serve (see video below and article here).
Verdasco after back-to-back losses to Raonic
After losing the matches, Verdasco commented that "For me that's not a real match in tennis. I hope to play soon against him in clay court to show him what it is to play tennis, and play rallies, and run, and not [just] serve." This prompted Chris Chase from Yahoo Sports to ask "if hard court tennis isn't "real" tennis, then are we to consider Verdasco's two non-clay tournament titles to be null and void? Does Roger Federer only have one Grand Slam title now? Did Rafael Nadal waste his time retooling his game to improve on grass and hard? Will history judge Pete Sampras to be a lesser player than Gaston Gaudio?" (link)
Since losing to Raonic back-to-back in February, Fernando Verdasco has won only one ATP match (d. Berankis (LTU) at Indian Wells) and his match at Davis Cup Round 1. He has dropped to #15 in the ATP rankings from #9 during the San José and Memphis tournaments.
I have to say I agree with Chris' sentiment there. Hard courts are real tennis.
Possible Verdasco / Raonic Semi-Final match?
Milos has shown since those matches that he is very versatile and has also been performing well on the clay surface thus far in the season. Verdasco's only match on clay since was a loss to fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo in Monte Carlo. His only wins since, at Davis Cup and at Indian Wells, were on the hard court surface.
If both players are able to win the requisite matches, their semi-final match will be a rematch of those played in Memphis and San José earlier this year. It promises to be a very exciting match that both players would surely very much like to win!
... But first, Milos will play later this afternoon (12:30 pm Eastern Time) against Igor Andreev (RUS) at the Estoril Open, a player that beat him earlier this year (head-to-head) - but as stated in an earlier post, Milos has come a long way since.
The main singles draw for the Estoril Open is out -- you can view it here. Since the Estoril Open is such a small event (ATP 250), Milos Raonic was one seed ranking away from receiving a bye into the second round. So according to the draw, Milos will face Igor Andreev (RUS) in the first round. Andreev is ranked 100 in the world and is obviously not seeded in this tournament. Looking at the head-to-head, Andreev beat Raonic in Kuala Lumpur in three sets last year. But that was their only meeting and it came before Raonic's rise in the rankings this season.
The order of play has been posted for Monday, April 25, but Raonic isn't scheduled for that day. Their match should be on Tuesday. Not sure yet if Rogers Sportsnet will be streaming this tournament.
Canadian Peter Polansky fell short of earning a spot in the main draw, losing to Roger-Vasselin (FRA) in the second round of qualifying.
Ivan Dodig (CRO) defeated Milos Raonic in the third round of the Barcelona Open today, 7-6(0) 4-6 6-3. Raonic did well to take the match to three sets after a disappointing performance in the first set tiebreak, but fell behind quickly in the third and was unable to make up the double break deficit.
Raonic was being troubled on his serve early, and had to save a break point in his second service game. But Milos was getting the job done. Dodig was having a comparatively easier time holding to start the match. Raonic was finally able to earn a break point with Dodig serving at 4-5, but failed to convert. The next game was a test for Milos, having to save two more break points to stay in the set. In the tiebreak, Dodig shut Raonic out completely and didn't lose a single point. Ouch. Obviously, the 7-0 tiebreak score was a little unexpected considering how close the games were and how Milos was winning points off his serve.
The match continued much like it did in the first set, with close games going in favour of the server. The first break of the match went to Milos after capitalizing on a single break chance with Dodig serving at 3-3. But Dodig quickly took a 0-40 lead in the next game and broke back to level the score. Now all of a sudden, no one can hold onto their serve. Raonic retook the lead with another break and earned the chance to serve for the set. It was a good time to hold, and he won the set 6-4.
Dodig broke Raonic twice to earn a 5-1 lead in the final set. Raonic would get one of those breaks back and Dodig had another chance to serve for the match at 5-3. Then there was a glimmer of hope: Raonic fought his way to 15-40 and had two break chances to get back on serve. But the comeback was not to be. Dodig saved both points and held to win the match.
It was a tough loss, especially after Milos forced the third set and looked to be making up ground towards the end. But Dodig was playing well, and was coming off a big upset over Robin Söderling in the previous round. Regardless, I would have liked to have watched this match live on TV or online, but it wasn't being streamed anywhere.
Up next for Raonic is the Estoril Open, an ATP 250 event in Portugal. He should be seeded high in the draw since there are few players entered who are ranked ahead of him. Of the Top 10 players, only Söderling, Del Potro and Verdasco are playing the tournament. It's a small event, but it's a good opportunity to make a deep run on a clay court.
Milos Raonic defeated Simon Greul (GER) in a close three set match, 6-3 4-6 7-6(5). Milos took the first set decisively, but the match ended up going the distance after Greul began to mount a comeback late in the second.
Greul came out firing. Serving to open the match, he landed all of his first serves in and won those points to hold at love. Raonic's start was a little shaky, allowing Greul to take a 0-40 lead right away. All told, Milos had to save four break points in his opening service game just to hold for 1-1. Holding soon became a much easier task for Raonic after he started hitting some aces and more first serves. Midway through the set, Greul's serve dropped off just enough for Milos to get the first break of the match. After consolidating the break, Raonic broke Greul's serve again to win the set 6-3 in just under 30 minutes.
This time to open the second set, it was Raonic who had a perfect service game winning all four points on his first serve for a love hold. Approaching the halfway mark of the set, Greul and Raonic traded service breaks to even things up at 3-3. Down 3-4, Greul then won three straight games to force a deciding third set. As a note, Raonic hit just 1 ace during the second set compared to the 6 he blasted in the first.
There would be no flawless service game by Milos to start the third. The first serve was decent enough, but Raonic had to save a break point before holding. It wasn't smooth sailing for Greul either, who had to save two break points to keep from falling behind. The rest of the set was fairly close, and required a tiebreaker to settle the match. Raonic was able to edge out Greul in the tiebreak to earn a spot in the next round.
Raonic will face Ivan Dodig (CRO) in the third round of the Barcelona Open Banc Sadabell, who upset No.3 seed Robin Söderling earlier today. They have yet to meet at the ATP tour level. Their match is currently set to be last on Pista Central tomorrow, but that may change. Sportsnet One will begin showing live coverage of the tournament starting at 7:30AM ET tomorrow morning, and will be streamed online as well.
Good luck in the Round of 16, Milos!
Milos Raonic defeated Radek Stepanek (CZE) today in straight sets, 6-4 6-2. With the win, Raonic advances to the second round of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.
Things were looking good for Milos early in the match. With Stepanek struggling to win points off his second serve, Raonic got the early break. Despite a low 1st serve %, Raonic was near perfect on 1st serve points winning 11/12. The lone break would be enough for Milos to win the set comfortably, not having to face a single break point along the way.
Just like in the first, Raonic didn't waste any time taking the lead in the second set. Milos backed up the early break by raising his 1st serve % and hitting a few aces. Stepanek still wasn't able to challenge Raonic's serve, and was having all kinds of trouble holding his own. Milos broke Radek for the second time to open up the lead to 5-2, and promptly served out the match with relative ease.
This was a solid performance by Milos, who was clearly dominant on his serve. It must be the new haircut. Next up for Milos is Simon Greul of Germany. The two have met only once before in Johannesburg earlier this year, where Greul won the match in straight sets. But if Milos can continue to serve as well as he did today, then I like his chances to even up the head-to-head record. Their match will be last on Court 1 tomorrow, which should be sometime early in the afternoon here on the east coast of Canada.