Juan Monaco defeated Milos Roanic in a grueling five set match at Roland Garros today, 6(5)-7 6-3 6(5)-7 6-3 6-4.
The first set saw no service breaks, with Monaco failing to convert his two chances. Milos didn't have any thanks to Monaco's steady serving and high first serve percentage. The hour long set required a tiebreak which could have gone either way after a couple of minibreaks were traded back and forth. Milos showed some finesse at the net when earning his third minibreak, allowing him to serve out the set with a nice one-two punch.
It was Monaco who would strike first in the second. Milos had a poor game serving at 2-3 and gave the break away with some ugly unforced errors. Monaco would eventually need five set points to level the match at a set a piece, having to save a break point while serving for it at 5-3.
Things weren't any better for Raonic to start the third. The errors continued to mount, and he had to save a break point in each of his first two service games. Milos finally found some rhythm in his third service game and was able to hold to love twice in a row. With Monaco serving at 4-5, Raonic found himself with a several set points. There was some confusion about a point at 30-40 where Monaco's shot was called out and the umpire left his chair to check the mark. It was then called in, but apparently the previous shot from Raonic had been called out. At least that's what I managed to get from the exchange. Either way, another tiebreak was needed.
Milos continued to look good at the net, and while his first serve percentage was still very low he only lost a single point on his first serve (and that happened during the tiebreak). Raonic surrendered his early lead, but came up with the goods later in the breaker. He took it 7-5, just like the first set.
After looking like he was going to drop serve to start the third, Monaco got the break and a 2-0 lead after Raonic's first service game. All indications pointed to this match going to a fifth set. And that's exactly what happened.
It was around this point that Raonic began to grunt when hitting his shots. Perhaps he was getting a little tired as the match turned 4 hours old. It's just not something we hear very often coming from Raonic. He had a difficult time holding in his first service game, having to save five break points to avoid falling behind. Monaco kept applying pressure and came up with a huge winner after sprinting across the court to return a drop shot that Milos left hanging. Again, it was Monaco who got the break and lead. If the previous four sets were any indication, it was unlikely that Milos would get back on serve. Monaco wasn't letting up and was giving nothing away on his serve. He made no mistake closing out the match.
The match lasted 4h33min. The stats are here.
Overall, Juan Monaco showed his clay court quality and was more consistent than Raonic. Milos failed to convert a single break point opportunity throughout the match, of which he had eight. He hit a lot of winners, but made an unhealthy amount of errors. This was just a tough and very close match that obviously took a lot out of Raonic. It was a great effort from Milos, but Monaco proved why he is one of the best clay court players currently on the tour.
Making the third round is a nice improvement over last year's French Open result for Raonic. He lost in the first round last year, which was a bit of a disappointment. The clay court season has had some pretty big ups and downs for Milos this year. There's no question that he looked much better on the clay this time around. Now things will swing over to the grass with the tournament in Halle, Germany.