The team for Canada's World Group first round tie against France has been set. There were no surprises. Veteran Daniel Nestor and Milos Raonic will lead the Davis Cup team and are joined by Vasek Pospisil and Frank Dancevic. The fifth player will be Peter Polansky.
Team Canada will face some stiff competition in Vancouver. The French team features two top players in Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils. Doubles specialists Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra round out the team. The only player that Raonic has a winning record against is Llodra (3-0). He has lost once to both Monfils and Benneteau, but has yet to meet Tsonga on the tour.
The tie gets underway on February 10 at the Thunderbird Sports Centre in Vancouver. The home crowd advantage will be crucial during the matches, especially for Vancouver's own Vasek Pospisil who stepped up in the playoff with Israel last year. Of course, fans will be clamoring to see Milos Raonic serve up some bombs on a Canadian court. Normally this opportunity comes but once a year.
We will post details on television coverage when they become available.
Go Canada, go!
We knew it would be a tough ask for Milos to take on a past US Open and Wimbledon champion in front of a boisterous home crowd. When the draw was released, a showdown with a former World No.1 player seemed to be the most likely result in the third round. With Roddick sustaining an injury and retiring against Hewitt, the match was set. Had Roddick been able to stay healthy and finish the match there probably (in my estimation, at least) would have been a different outcome. The American looked great in the first set and showed no signs of slowing down until he took an awkward step and hurt himself. I think a healthy Roddick might have been an even tougher third round opponent for Raonic, but that's not how things played out.
The game plan appeared to be working for Raonic in the first set. There were some misses, but the forehand was on fire and the backhand proved to be effective at times. As Hewitt began to figure out his opponent and improve his return game, Raonic wasn't able step it up on serve and earn more free points. Milos was hitting at just 53% on his first serve. Against an accomplished counterpuncher like Hewitt it was only a matter of time until the inconsistency caught up with Raonic. As Tom Tebbutt notes in his blog, "a slight uptick from that number and the match could easily have turned his way."
That being said, I think the aggressive play from Milos was the right approach. When Raonic was hitting the ball cleanly, Hewitt didn't have an answer. The downside of going for your shots is always the number of unforced errors. Again, if Raonic could have reigned the errors in by even the slightest amount he might have been able to stay ahead in the match. There were some key points where it might have looked like Milos was going for too much on some of his shots (such as in the third set tiebreak), but it was the right call regardless of whether or not he won the point. The difference will be making more of those shots in the future as Milos becomes a more experienced player.
Full credit to Hewitt who, as the wily veteran, was able to adjust his game to solve the problems that Milos was presenting him. It looked like Raonic would be too much handle early on, but Hewitt simply got better as the match progressed. It was definitely a winnable match from Milos' perspective, he unfortunately wasn't consistent enough at crucial stages of the match. It was a great match to watch, though, and a big thanks to TSN for giving the match the coverage it deserved!
So no repeat of last year's Round of 16 run for Milos. It would have been nice to see Raonic take on Djokovic, but it's not like anyone can beat him anyway. I'd just like to know where I can get a radioactive yellow Lacoste shirt for the next time I hit the courts.
P.S. - watch TSN's Video On Demand (VOD) of the entire match at the following link (not sure how long they will leave it out, but it works now): http://watch.tsn.ca/Redirect/?ClipId=605041 --wacb
Again, I'll be posting the updates as the match goes along here. Update: Here's a thumbnail that links to the Globe and Mail article it came from. It show's that awesome yellow shirt he sported in front of the huge crowd at Rod Laver Arena.
5:10 AM, EST
So by the time I dragged myself out of bed the first set was still on serve, and Raonic put it away with some hyper-serves to make it 3-3. In the time I went to get a glass of orange juice, Raonic had broken. With Raonic serving for the set, the commentator notes that he has the 6 fastest serves in the tournament, and 5 of them have come so far in the match. Raonic took that game at love with some short rallies producing some winners. 1st set to Raonic, 6-4.
So the first set seemed to be dominated my Milos in 38 Minutes, with Hewitt unable to serve and ace and apparently not in danger of breaking our man. Hewitt came out firing in the first game of the 2nd set, as he served his first ace and brought it to 40-15 before putting it away.
Raonic 6 0 Hewitt 4 1
Here's the stats from the first set:
Milos is wearing a VERY bright yellow shirt in the regular, famous Lacoste tennis shirt style with his SAP logo on the right arm. He continues to impress on Lleyton's serve, but he did hold to make it:
Raonic 6 1 Hewitt 4 2
Still on serve now at 2-2, about 15 minutes into the 2nd set. Still scouring the Internet to see if anyone's snapped a shot of Raonic's bright yellow shirt so I can post it here...
Raonic is doing his usual best at keeping the rallies short and putting pressure on Hewitt's serve. He brought it to 30-30, and then with a little longer rally earned a break point.
Hewitt served a stinger that Milos wasn't able to return, and followed it up with some superb net play to get a game point to hold and keep the set on serve. Milos brought it back to deuce with a power backhand though.
Still on serve here in the 2nd set. Apparently my infant daughter wanted to get up early to watch tennis too so I've had to get get her to watch beside me. I think she likes Milos' yellow shirt.
Raonic 6 4 Hewitt 4 3
This looks like the best chance Lleyton has had to break so far, though he made an error to bring it back to 30-30 before Milos made his own error to give a Hewitt a break point. On an overhand smash from the back of the court, Raonic gave Hewitt the break, though Milos thought it was close enough to use a challenge, leaving him with one remaining.
Raonic 6 3
Hewitt 4 5
Raonic hit a couple more errors, including a backhand over Lleyton's baseline just now, to give Hewitt a couple of set points. It's unfortunate, but it looks as though a lapse of a few minutes is being well capitalized upon by Hewitt, as another long backhand error gives Hewitt the 2nd set. He doesn't look as bothered by his string of errors as he did versus Petzschner. Let's hope Milos can come back at full speed in the 3rd.
Raonic 6 3
Hewitt 4 6
Milos started the first game with an ace, but put an error into the net to keep it at 15-15. It seems the commentators are crediting Hewitt with the errors that Raonic is making... they've also said that Milos has had trouble keeping his composure when things weren't going his way during his rise over the past year - I'm not sure which player keeps his composure much better than Raonic... I think our announcer is confused.
Both players hold to make it 1-1 in the 3rd.
With Lleyton unable to put a ball in play in the entire game, Raonic holds at love.
Raonic 6 3 2
Hewitt 4 6 1
Hewitt held to make it 2-2.
Milos seems a little tense again, 15-30 in the 5th game...
Milos put another error long to give Hewitt another break point. 2nd serve...
And it was Hewitt's turn this time, with an error into the net. Another break point for Hewitt. 2nd serve for Raonic...
This time Hewitt tried to pass Milos down the line. Milos got to it, but wasn't able to get it over the net, and Hewitt is up a break again... this time in the 3rd set.
Raonic 6 3 2
Hewitt 4 6 3
Raonic just played his best return game of the match by far... earning 0-40, apparently throwing Hewitt off enough that double-faulted t0 give the break back. On serve in the 3rd with Milos' ace count at 12.
Another touchy service game from Raonic, but he put it away with some great play when it counted after hitting deuce.
Both players holding on until the tie-break, and when I pick up the match again it's on serve, 2-2 with Raonic serving, in the 3rd set tie-break.
Still on serve until Raonic makes a double fault to give away the first mini-break. He has to serve a 2nd serve again in the next point, and eventually put another error wide to give Hewitt three set points and eventually the 3rd set to make it 2 sets to 1. I missed the details as I had to leave the room, but apparently he saved two set points before succombing 7-5 in the tie-break.
Raonic 6 3 6
Hewitt 4 6 7
Trying a couple of times to put my daughter down for a nap (unsuccessfully - seems she wanted to watch Milos as well!), I just finished watching an elated Hewitt give his post-match interview - what an amazing match it turned out to be. In the 3rd set, Milos seemed to lose his focus again for games 4 and 5, giving up the break. They stayed on serve until it was time for Hewitt to serve out the match.
They both had oppourtunities to put it away, and probably 6 or 7 deuce points. A great lob put it away at the end, with Milos chasing it down and turning but hitting it into the net. For Hewitt, it was probably the biggest moment for him in recent years - but for Milos, playing in the packed 15,000-seat stadium against such a tennis legend in Australia, it must have been surreal. It probably felt like a close leafs game at ACC when they're about to win (rare - but it's happened).
Awesome work Milos, many more opportunities to play even bigger matches in future, I see for you (now perhaps I'll have time to watch those Star Wars Blu-Rays)...
Unfortunately for us in North America (but great for everyone on the other side of the world) Milos Raonic centre-stage on Rod Laver versus former #1, Grand Slam Winner, and home team favorite Lleyton Hewitt, will start at around 4:30 AM Eastern (EST). His match follows Serena Williams' 3rd round match-up, which starts at 3AM EST (7PM local) - Day (AO day 6 schedule).
TSN has confirmed that they will be covering the action live on Rod Laver starting at 3AM EST (their schedule) on the main TSN channel. It is doubtful that this match will be streamed online at TSN.ca since they usually only cover the outside show courts and not matches from Rod Laver Arena. More to follow later on the matchup...
Milos Raonic defeated Philipp Petzschner in the second round of the Australian Open, 6-4 5-7 6-2 7-5. He advances to the third round where he will meet former US Open and Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt (AUS).
The serving from Milos was consistent enough for most of the match to keep Petzschner from earning too many chances. However, there were several instances where Raonic fell behind to 0-40 seemingly out of nowhere. All it took was a few missed first serves and a couple of errors for Milos to find himself in a hole.
Raonic broke to start the match, backing it up by holding with relative ease. Petzschner picked up his serve as the set wore on, and there weren't many extended rallies. Interestingly, Petzschner was rocking compression socks for the match. That's not a look you see very often on the tour. Though they probably weren't a fashion statement, but an attempt to stave off muscle fatigue in the lower leg.
Serving for the opening set, Raonic showed some of the finer aspects of his game. He started with a nice passing shot to win the first point, then he hit a blistering inside-out forehand to take the next. Milos followed this up with an ace to take a 40-0 lead. After spraying a backhand shot wide, Raonic put the set away on a very nice cross court forehand winner.
Petzschner found himself with a 15-30 lead on Raonic's serve to start the second, but Milos ran off three straight points to level things at one game all. Despite a low first serve percentage, Petzschner was nearly perfect winning points off the first serve.
Just when it seemed like the set was heading to a tiebreak with Raonic serving at 4-5, Milos went down 0-40 after getting beaten by a lob and gifting Petzschner a few points. Right on cue, Raonic served his way out of trouble and eventually put the game away with an ace. In doing so, he saved 4 set points and kept his unbroken in 2012 streak alive. The errors made their unwelcome return when he was serving at 5-6, and Raonic was once again down 0-40. Raonic wasn't able to save all three set points this time and his unbroken streak in 2012 came to an end. The first serve percentage fell off a bit in the second set, and the ace count left something to be desired.
Not one to waste time, Raonic got his head back in the game and broke Petzschner to start the third. Raonic would earn further chances over the next few games, eventually securing the insurance break to take a 5-2 lead. Petzschner looked somewhat listless as Milos closed out the third set, as though he just came to the realization that the only way to break Raonic's serve was to wait for the Canadian to make a string of errors.
Petzschner continued to appear suspiciously aloof, almost philosophical, in the fourth set. I was expecting him to take off both of shoes and one of his socks at some point. I was immediately reminded of this:
But unlike the Baumer, Petzschner didn't go away and he was soon rewarded with another 0-40 lead on Raonic's serve. Milos made up for his previous loss of serve and put together 6 straight points to stay on even terms. Things wouldn't stay even for long, however, as Raonic was able to break Petzschner in the following game. Service breaks became the norm at this stage of the match and Raonic would get broken for a second time while serving for it at 5-4. But Milos broke back immediately, earning another chance to serve for the match. This time Raonic was able to close it out book his spot in the third round.
Thanks to TSN.ca for streaming the match live for all the Canadian tennis fans. It makes sense that they would show live hockey on TV while this match was going on, but they're showing an encore presentation of the match on TSN2 as I write this. It wasn't a picture perfect performance from Milos today, but he got the better of Petzschner in a tough match and now leads the head-to-head 2 to 1. More importantly, Raonic is through to the third round of the Australian Open for the second year in a row. Not bad.
Now we wait to see which former World No.1 player he will face in the next round: Hewitt or Roddick? And while we wait, why not watch this:
UPDATE: (23) Milos Raonic will face Lleyton Hewitt in the third round of the Australian Open after (15) Andy Roddick was forced to retire due to injury.
Milos Raonic will be on Court 3 for the first match of the day session at 11AM local time. While the main ESPN/TSN coverage will probably be on the Sharapova match, the "bonus courts" online on whichever website has the rights in your country (TSN.ca/tennis in Canada) should show this court. It all starts at 7PM Eastern Time (EST) tonight as confirmed by TSN's post on that page:
Day 4 Coverage (TSN.ca)
Catch live bonus streaming coverage on TSN.ca featuring Canada's Milos Raonic against Philipp Petzschner, tonight at 7pm et/4pm pt.
There will also be an encore showing on TSN2 at 10:30pm et/7:30pm pt.
According to Tennis Canada (@Tennis_Canada) via a tweet, they will also have a stream for Dubois' match, which will be on the same time on Court 8. Nestor and Mariono will also be up first in doubles action in the daytime session in Melbourne, but on courts 19 and 21 respectively, so no coverage there. Wozniak will also play her 2nd round match today, but it will be the third match on court 18.
Milos Raonic defeated Filippo Volandri (ITA) in just 91 minutes in the first round of the Australian Open, 6-4 6-0 6-2.
This match was played on Court 19 which is not a TV show court. Unfortunately, we were not able to watch the match live and had to rely on the Slam Tracker for real time results. Here are the match statistics:
Judging by the scoreline, Milos dominated the match by winning a majority of his first serve points while breaking his opponent six times. Here's a fun fact: Raonic has yet to drop serve in 2012. The Canadian fell behind on a few of his service games today, but Volandri was unable to convert any of his chances. Milos was constantly ahead in the match. He took the lead early in each set and there wasn't a tiebreak in sight, unlike the recent final in Chennai.
Raonic will try to further capitalize on his gathering momentum when he faces Philipp Petzschner (GER) in the second round later this week. Raonic and Petzschner met twice last year, splitting their matches with Milos most recently getting the better of Petzschner on the indoor hard courts in Sweden. Petzschner also had an easy win over his first round opponent Lukas Rosol (CZE), so he should be fresh for his second round match with Milos.
Who knows, we may even be able to watch this one live when the time comes.
Update 7:15PM: Aleksandra Wozniak's match is being shown on TSN.ca right now: link. Her match with Chinese opponent Shuai Zhang is about to get under way on Court 8 as they're finishing up their practice shots now. Still no telling for sure whether we'll get to see Milos on TSN.ca, but it's unlikely as that court is not listed anywhere as being available for streaming/televising - live score tracking here: link. --wacb
Follow @multiformous on Twitter for live tweeting during the Raonic vs Volandri match!