Canadian Milos Raonic has been named the ATP Tour's Newcomer of the Year. This award is voted on by fellow players, so Milos has garnered much recognition from his peers this season. It usually goes to the player who has moved up the most in the rankings during the year. Raonic began the season ranked No. 156 in the world and reached a career-high ranking of No. 25 in May. This made Raonic the highest ranked singles player in Canadian history. He was also the first Canadian to win an ATP tour title in 16 years when he won San Jose back in February. He followed that victory up by making the finals in Memphis the very next week. Milos his a rough patch when he was injured during Wimbledon and had to undergo surgery, but continued to show promising results after making his comeback.
The news comes just days after Milos played an exhibition match with his idol Pete Sampras, who won 14 major Grand Slam titles in his historic career. Raonic defeated Sampras in straight sets, with Sampras keeping things close in the first set only to be blown out in the second. After the match, the tennis legend confirmed what we've always known about Raonic's serve: it's "a weapon". Sampras went on to say that "[Milos] serves harder than Andre [Agassi] does … when he can serve 135, 140 mph on the line and really pick your spots, that’s a pretty good weapon to have. So he’s on his way." Read more about 'The Face Off' here.
That's a resounding endorsement coming from Sampras, especially now that Raonic has been recognized as the ATP Tour Newcomer of the Year. It's a good time to be a Canadian tennis fan!
Julien Benneteau (FRA) defeated Milos Raonic (CAN) in an epic three set match at the BNP Paribas Masters today, 6(5)-7 7-6(5) 6-4.
Benneteau was having to play more points on his serve compared to Raonic, but he only faced one break point during the opening set. Raonic was having a much easier time on serve ultimately resulting in the set being decided by a tiebreak. With Benneteau serving at 4-5, he made a costly error to give Raonic the mini-break advantage. Milos didn't mess around and closed out the set on his first chance to serve for it. The Canadian was nearly perfect on his first serve points won during the set, but only hit half as many aces as his opponent.
Raonic started the second set with a blistering service game, doubling his ace count from three to six. In his next service game, Milos took the lead in the ace race after hitting two in a row to comfortably hold serve. Benneteau got to deuce on Raonic's third service game but wasn't able to earn a break chance. Milos returned the favour in the next game, but again the server held without having to face a break point. Serving to stay in the set, Raonic opened the game with two more aces bringing the total to 13 for the match. However, Benneteau was able to take advantage of some miscues from Milos to get to deuce. Raonic regained his concentration and quickly served his way out of trouble to force another tiebreak. This time it would be Benneteau who got the first mini-break courtesy of an error from Raonic. After giving up another error, Milos came up with a great return of serve to get a mini-break back. But Raonic was still trailing with Benneteau serving at 6-5 and he wasn't able to get back on even terms. The French fans let out a huge roar when Raonic put a ball into the net, thus giving the tiebreak to Benneteau. This one was going the distance and all of the momentum was with Benneteau.
It was clear from the start that Raonic wasn't letting up on his serve. He hit four aces and didn't lose a single point during his first two service games of the third set. Unfortunately his third service game was a different story. Benneteau quickly found himself with a 0-40 lead and his first break points of the match. Raonic saved the first two, only to send a forehand long and surrender the first break of serve of the contest. Benneteau consolidated the break to take a 4-2 lead. If the previous two hours of match play were any indication, we would expect both players to continue to hold serve until Raonic ran out of opportunities to break. That's exactly what happened as Benneteau was just too solid on his serve and didn't afford Raonic any chances to get back into the match.
Since coming back from the hip surgery, Milos had not lost to a player ranked lower than him until today. With the loss to Benneteau, Raonic's season has come to an end. The first round upset is a bit of a disappointment, but full credit goes to Benneteau for playing a terrific match coming back from a set down. This match turned on a few key points, and Julien was able to come out on top of them more often than Milos. Both players were remarkably consistent on serve, but Benneteau raised his game at just the right time to get the break in the third set. This was just after Raonic had gotten to deuce on Benneteau's previous service game. It was an incredibly tense match that lasted over two hours and 20 minutes. Benneteau was the better player today, but not by much.
Better luck next year, Milos. I can't wait for the 2012 season! Of course, there are still the tour finals in London and the Davis Cup final later this month but we've seen the last of Raonic on the ATP tour for the year. It certainly has been a great season stretching all the way back to the Round of 16 result at the Australian Open, and we look forward to following Milos in the new year.
Verdasco just defeated Cilic on "Central Court" and
Up next today, 7 Nov, at about 9 am Eastern, is Milos Raonic (CAN) versus Julien Benneteau (FRA).
The two have never met before on the tour, but Milos outranks Julien by 25 positions (29 and 54 respectively). While Benneteau might have the "home-team" advantage, I have it from a good source that Milos Raonic has won over some of the French fans.
Même si M. Benneteau viens de l'equippe Francais, j'ai entendu que Milos a gagner des fans Français aussi!
The draw for the final ATP Masters 1000 event of the season in Paris was announced today. Milos Raonic has drawn the French wildcard Julien Benneteau, who is currently ranked No. 53 in the world. Raonic and Benneteau have yet to meet on the tour, so there is no head-to-head record to compare. Benneteau recently had a few second round exits in the tournaments in Russia, but won the indoor hard court tournament in Rennes, France last month.
Should Raonic advance to the second round, he would meet former US Open champ Andy Roddick. If that wasn't already difficult enough, Raonic could potentially meet Andy Murray in the Round of 16. Roger Federer is also in the same section of the draw.
Good luck, Milos!
Marin Cilic defeated Milos Raonic at the Valencia Open today in straight sets, 6-4 6-4.
One break of serve per set was all Cilic needed to pull off the win today. Cilic was in control for the majority of the match and was rarely challenged on his serve. Raonic was only able to earn a single break point in the first set, which he couldn't convert. Cilic would convert one his five chances early in the second to stay in the lead and deny Raonic any openings. Milos put up a fight with Cilic serving for the match, but he wasn't able to extend it.
Raonic had a difficult time working his way into the Cilic serve despite the Croat's low first serve percentage. Perhaps the most important stat of the match is the amount of second serve points Milos won, which was 38% for the match and a disappointingly low 18% for the second set. This indicates that Raonic couldn't get comfortable on his serve and had to focus most of his energy on keeping Cilic at bay. He was fighting a losing battle, but did well to keep the match as close as it was. Cilic was coming into the Valencia tournament riding a five match winning streak after the victory in St. Petersburg. That momentum was too much for Raonic to handle today.
Next up for Milos is the ATP Masters 1000 event in Paris which gets underway next week. All the top players will be there as it is the final ATP 1000 event of the year, and for most it'll be the last tournament of the season.