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.