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Milos Raonic overcomes tough Spaniard to reach Aussie Open quarters

Posted on 23 January 2017 by admin

Canadian will next face former champ Rafael Nadal.

Courtesy: The Associated Press Posted: Jan 22, 2017 9:25 PM ET Last Updated: Jan 23, 2017 5:22 AM ET

Canada's Milos Raonic hits a backhand to Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut during their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia on Monday evening. (Dita Alangkara/The Associated Press)


Raonic, who's been ill with the flu for the past few days, struggled at the outset against the 13th-seeded Spaniard. He rallied from 5-1 down in the first-set tiebreaker to win the opening set, then was broken twice in the second set.Canada's Milos Raonic has advanced to the quarter-finals at the Australian Open for the third straight year after a 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over Roberto Bautista Agut on Monday in Melbourne.

But Bautista Agut began to falter midway through the third set when the roof at Hisense Arena was closed due to a passing rain shower, and he later had to call for a trainer to work on his leg.

"I was very fortunate to get through today," Raonic said. "There were moments where it wasn't looking so good."

The Thornhill, Ont. product hit 33 aces and 75 winners but had nine double-faults and 55 unforced errors, and seemed to get on a roll after spiking his racket into the court in frustration in the ninth game of the third set.

"I'm happy that I was able to find a way to pull through," he said.

Asked during the brief post match on court interview how his body was feeling, Raonic's one word reply was "fantastic."

Raonic is seeded third for the first time at a Grand Slam, and the top two seeds, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, are already out of the tournament.

He next plays former champion Rafael Nadal of Spain, who defeated Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Nadal won the Australian Open in 2009.

Serena reaches quarters

Serena Williams scrapped her way into the quarters in the women's draw, working around a misfiring serve and a rash of unforced errors to beat Barbora Strycova as the heat intensified on Monday.

She had a little bit of luck in some big moments, but created it herself by staying in points against the No. 16-ranked Strycova, who made the No. 2-ranked Williams engage in more and longer rallies than anyone so far in the tournament.

Despite the four service breaks (three in the first set), and with the fluky net cord and the off-balance, scrunched-shoulder backhand that bounced flatly and clinched her the first set on her eighth set point, Williams found a way to win 7-5, 6-4.

That keeps Williams on track in her bid for an Open-era record 23rd Grand Slam title. If she gets there, the 35-year-old American will regain the No. 1 ranking as well.

"I feel like it was really good for me to win on probably not my best day, which is always good, because sometimes you rely on one shot and if it goes off, and then, like, what happens now?" Williams said. "It was really good for me to almost lose that so I know my other game is going pretty good, too."

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Serena Williams Stutters Into Australian Open Quarters1:07

Next up, she'll face No. 9 Johanna Konta, who beat Ekaterina Makarova for the second straight year in the fourth round.

The 2016 semifinalist was only broken once and broke Makarova four times.

"That's an incredible experience for me. She's one of the few players still playing I watched growing up," Konta said of Williams. "It's an incredible honour and I can't wait to share the court with her."

7 service breaks in 1st set

The match started with four straight service breaks, with only two points going with serve, until Williams held for a 3-2 lead. There were seven service breaks in the first set — with Williams getting the decisive one in the 12th game.

She broke Strycova's serve early in the second to establish a lead but was broken while serving for the match. She finished off in the next game with another break of her own, her sixth of the match.

"It's good to know I have a plan B or option 2, I wasn't serving my greatest today, also she was putting a lot of returns in there," said Williams, who had a first-serve percentage of 45, and made four double-faults. "It's always good to have something to improve on."

'I love pressure'

The second-seeded Williams advanced to quarterfinals at Melbourne Park for the 11th time since 2001 — she's only ever lost three times here in that round.

Angelique Kerber, who beat Williams in the final here last year and then ended the 22-time Grand Slam winner's 186-week streak at No. 1 by winning the U.S. Open, was upset in the fourth round in a straight-sets loss to Coco Vandeweghe the previous night.

"I love pressure. I feel like I deal well with pressure," said Williams, who has won the Australian Open six times. "I love the game. Honestly I have nothing to lose. I've won enough. … Everything is a bonus for me right now. It's kind of a little relaxing."

She has never met Konta, who is 9-0 so far in 2017.

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Will Canada’s Milos Raonic Challenge For Tennis No. 1 in 2017?

Posted on 06 January 2017 by admin

 

ATP

ATP Staff.

  •  

World No. 3 takes in sights before opening round match.

Milos Raonic has arrived at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp and is ready to make a statement in his first tournament of 2017.

But before he takes the court for his first match of the season, the top seed and defending champion made time to take in the sights of this world-class city. Raonic boarded a CityCat cruise around the Brisbane River on Tuesday and met Adrian Schrinner, the city’s Deputy Mayor.

“It's great to be back here. This is the most ideal way for us, as tennis players, to start off an Australian summer,” said Raonic. “Having five of the Top 10 players here is of great significance. It’s obviously a great show not only of the kind of support that we have here in Brisbane, but also the quality of the tournament and the fact that players believe this is the most ideal way to start. They feel the comfort of being here many years over and over again.”

Having received a first-round bye, the World No. 3 will play the winner between Sam Querrey and Diego Schwartzman. Raonic is even with Querrey in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry at 2-2, but has won their past two matches.

Raonic cut his year-end Emirates ATP Ranking from No. 14 to No. 3 last year, and in his final event of the year, the ATP World Tour Finals, he pushed World No. 2 Novak Djokovic to 7-6, 7-6 and held match point against World No. 1 Andy Murray.

Asked if he could join Murray and Djokovic in the battle for No. 1 in 2017, Raonic said, "I hope so, that's the goal. It's about going out there every single week trying to give myself physically and mentally the best possibility to win and compete against these guys in the biggest events.

"They have a consistency that has been unmatched over the past few seasons; hopefully I can step up and show that consistency as well."

Talking about his decision to add former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek to his coaching team, Raonic said, “It was about the intentions he believes I need to do with my game to take the next step forward, especially against the top guys. We’re looking for a bit more aggression, a bit more progress forward to the net to keep the guys off balance and take it to them.”

The Canadian has thrived in Brisbane throughout his career, posting a 7-2 career record in his three appearances. He also finished runner-up at this event in 2015 (l. Federer).

This will be Raonic’s first match with 1996 Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek as part of his coaching team. The Dutchman will also work alongside Riccardo Piatti, who has been with the Canadian since 2014. 

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Rafael Nadal tips ‘amazing champion’ Carlos Moya to help Canada’s Milos Raonic reach next level

Posted on 03 January 2016 by admin

Milos & NadalABU DHABI // Rafael Nadal has backed Milos Raonic’s decision to add “good friend” Carlos Moya to his coaching team and believes the former world No 1 and 1998 French Open champion could be the catalyst to help achieve the Canadian’s dreams.

Raonic has hired Moya, the former Spanish Davis Cup captain, to fill the spot left vacant by Croatian Ivan Ljubicic’s departure in November.

Ljubicic has since joined Roger Federer’s coaching staff and Raonic, desperate to make up for lost time after an injury-disrupted 2015, has turned to Moya, who retired in 2010 after a 15-year career that included one grand slam title at Roland Garros and a trip to the 1997 Australian Open, where he finished runner-up to Pete Sampras.

“Carlos is an amazing champion and a great ambassador of our sport,” said Nadal after his 7-6(2), 6-3 win over Raonic in the final of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship on Saturday night. “He has a lot of knowledge about this sport, so for sure he will help Milos in some aspects. Carlos is a close friend of mine so I wish him and Milos all the best.”

Analysis: Rafael Nadal, looking like the warrior of old in Abu Dhabi, focused firmly on the future

Moya was the first Spaniard to reach the top of the ATP rankings since they were introduced in 1973 and he finished his career with 20 titles alongside a Davis Cup winner’s medal.

Raonic, 25, has reached as high as No 4 (May, 2015) in the rankings and, in reaching the last four at the 2014 Wimbledon, he became the first Canadian men’s singles player to reach the semi-finals at a grand slam since Robert Powell in 1908.

The Montenegro-born big-server, however, has much bigger ambitions and is hoping Moya will help him achieve them.

“It’s going to be a great complement to my team,” Raonic said. “I have a big team around me. Guys love what they do and they really want to help me dearly and he’s no exception to that.

“I think he brings a lot of experience and understanding, but at the same time, he’s going to work very hard with me on court. He’s also going to give me that kind of calm and peace in moments where maybe I can’t find it on my own off the court and before the important matches.”

 

Raonic, however, is confident about his health, especially his bothersome back, as he starts 2016.

“I’m feeling great,” he said. “Actually I know I am definitely in significantly better shape than I have been in before. So, you know, I’m doing well, the right work, hopefully my body appreciates it.

“I’d like to do much better [in 2016] than I have in grand slams. For that to happen, I have to be healthy to give myself a chance to play good tennis.”

Making his first appearance in Abu Dhabi, Raonic was also pleased with his performance in reaching the MWTC final, beating South African Kevin Anderson before edging world No 4 Stan Wawrinka, a man he has failed to beat in four attempts on the ATP Tour, in the semis.

“It’s been phenomenal,” Raonic said. “It’s been sort of a premiere and premium way to set up 2016. You get three great matches against great players and it gives you a lot to build up off, a lot of insight.

“Hopefully things will keep going well through the first month of the year and maybe I can play Rafa [Nadal] again in a later stage of a bigger tournament.”

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Canada’s Milos Raonic meets Novak Djokovic in the Italian Open semi-finals

Posted on 16 May 2014 by admin

Canadian Milos Raonic reached the semifinals of a major event for the first time this year, beating Frenchman Jeremy Chardy at the Itallian Open on Friday.

The Thornhill, Ont., native prevailed by scores of 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.

Raonic, the No. 8 seed, led by a set and a break at 6-3, 4-3 before losing his serve for the first time in the tournament. Chardy broke again at 6-5 to force a third set. Raonic won the last set easily, and also beat Chardy last week at the Madrid Open.

Raonic now faces Novak Djokovic, who beat David Ferrer in three sets, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

Djokovic and Raonic have never faced each other on the tour, with the Serbian a 7-6 (1), 6-2, 6-2 winner over the Canadian last year in Davis Cup play.

The second-ranked Djokovic double-faulted on his first match point but then won a 38-shot rally before eventually closing it out in just over 2 1/2 hours.

"It was definitely the most physical match I've had on clay this year," Djokovic said, adding that his wrist is reacting well. "I'm playing with no pain. As long as it stays like this I'll be happy."

Having sat out last week's Madrid Open, Djokovic will face eighth-seeded Milos Raonic for a spot in the final.

Djokovic is aiming for a third Rome title, having won the clay-court event in 2008 and 2011.

Also reaching the last four was Grigor Dimitrov, who celebrated his 23rd birthday with a win when 36-year-old Tommy Haas retired after losing the first set 6-2 due to a right shoulder injury — spoiling a matchup between the youngest and oldest players in the top 20.

Dimitrov's semifinal opponent will be either seven-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal or Wimbledon title-holder Andy Murray, who were playing later in the last key warm-up event before the French Open starts in nine days.

"It's definitely one of the most memorable days of my life," Dimitrov said upon reaching his first Masters series semifinal. "I'm just a happy birthday boy today."

ROME — Canada’s Milos Raonic defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (5), 6-4 on Thursday to reach the Italian Open quarter-finals.

Raonic, the No. 8 seed from Thornhill, Ont., won five of the last six points in the first-set tiebreaker. He picked up a break in the second set en route to his first career victory over the 11th-seeded Frenchman.

Tsonga outlasted Raonic in a marathon match at the London Olympics in 2012 and beat him again last year at Indian Wells.

Raonic hit seven aces and saved five break point chances on the red clay courts at the Foro Italico. He’ll make his fourth Masters 1000 Series quarter-final appearance of the season Friday against Jeremy Chardy of France.

Chardy, who upset Roger Federer of Switzerland in the second round, advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Croatia’s Ivan Dodig. Raonic has yet to reach a semifinal this year.

Also Thursday, Rafael Nadal was pushed to three sets for the second consecutive match and lined up a quarter-final with Andy Murray.

The top-ranked Nadal dropped behind a set and a break against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, then won 11 of the final 12 games to prevail 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-1 on another windy day at the Foro Italico.

Murray eliminated Jurgen Melzer of Austria 7-6 (1), 6-4 to celebrate his 27th birthday.

In an upset, the seemingly ageless Tommy Haas beat third-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka 5-7, 6-2, 6-3.

On the women’s side, Ana Ivanovic beat two-time Rome champion Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-4.

Perhaps drained from his three-hour win over Gilles Simon that ended near midnight a day earlier, Nadal didn’t generate the usual depth with his groundstrokes, and began to take control only when Youzhny started committing more unforced errors.

Nadal consistently ran around his backhand, a shot that also caused him concern in recent losses to David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, respectively.

A seven-time champion in Rome, Nadal hasn’t lost three matches on clay in one season in a decade, but for a while it looked like he was coming close to ending that streak.

Of Nadal’s 29 winners, only two of them came with his backhand.

The oldest player in the draw at 36, Haas used his expertise to give Wawrinka trouble with heavy topspin.

Haas last beat a top-10 player more than a year ago in Miami, where he took out then-No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

“These things don’t happen too often anymore, so when I take them I’m really proud of them,” the German said. He has been winning this week in Rome for the first time since he lost the 2002 final to Andre Agassi.

Wawrinka cited a back injury that occurred in colder conditions during his opening win.

“I couldn’t move too well,” he said. “It’s really nothing serious. It’s just painful and I need some rest — maybe a few days.”

Wawrinka has made a great start by winning the Australian Open and the Monte Carlo Masters but another early exit in last week’s Madrid Open leaves his form in question with the French Open starting in 10 days.

In other matches, second-seeded Li Na defeated Sam Stosur 6-3, 6-1 and will next meet Sara Errani of Italy, who kept the crowd content by beating Czech qualifier Petra Cetkovska 6-4, 7-6 (3).

Also, third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska eliminated Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 6-1, and will play 2007 and 2008 Rome champion Jelena Jankovic, who got by Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-3.

Zhang Shuai of China also reached the quarters, holding off American qualifier Christina McHale 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.

Later, defending champion Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic were in action.

 

With files from The Canadian Press.

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Australian Open: Canada’s Milos Raonic reaches third round

Posted on 16 January 2014 by admin

Australian Open: Milos Raonic advances;

Another Canadian Vasek Pospisil withdraws with back pain.

Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil withdrew from the Australian Open on Thursday due to a lingering back injury as fellow Canadian Milos Raonic reached the third round.

Courtesy: The Canadian Press MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA—

Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil withdrew from the Australian Open on Thursday due to a lingering back injury as fellow Canadian Milos Raonic reached the third round. Raonic, seeded 11th, won his match after it was interrupted by rain in the second set. · More tennis coverage He defeated Victor Hanescu of Romania 7-6 (9), 6-4, 6-4 and will next face Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who defeated Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (11). Pospisil, the No. 28 seed, pulled out during a doubles match a day before his scheduled third-round singles match against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland. Pospisil, 23, and Austrian partner Julien Knowle were losing 1-2 to an Australian duo in the first round of their match when he withdrew after being told by doctors he risked compromising his season if he continued.

He will return to Vancouver on Friday to start rehab in hopes of playing in the Davis Cup in Tokyo in two weeks. Pospisil called it an unfortunate and disappointing injury. “I’m really disappointed to be pulling out. It’s my first third round in a Grand Slam. I was excited to do my best and take the opportunity, but unfortunately I was not able to do so at this time.” “It’s nothing too serious right now, but there’s significant risk if I were to play on … I could do some serious damage,” Pospisil added. “I don’t want to jeopardize the rest of my season in any way. So it was just the smart move really to pull out, and be safe with my body and try and get ready, hopefully, in time for Davis Cup.” Pospisil first felt the problem in a semi-final against Wawrinka this month in Chennai, India and withdrew in the second set. He also withdrew from a tournament last week in Sydney. Pospisil bounced back on Wednesday, however, to earn a 3-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (9), 6-1 victory over Australian Matthew Ebden. “There’s nothing that’s really wrong with it (the back) right now,” stressed Pospisil. “It’s just more preventive, I’m supposed to keep off it for a little while.”

Milos Raonic, of Thornhill, Ont., began his match in the evening after tournament officials had halted play on all courts except the covered ones due to a temperature of more than 43 C on the third day of a record heat wave. Raonic, 23, is into the Melbourne third round for a fourth consecutive year. “It was a day with a lot of different adversities, it wasn’t too difficult of a day,” said the Canadian. “I’m just happy I got through it as efficiently as I did.” “Before the rain, the conditions were quite different, a lot quicker. Then I come out starting from the first game getting everything figured out. The lighting is a little bit yellow. Pretty much high tosses get lost a little bit because the lights only face down. There’s no upwards or sideways lighting.” No. 76 Hanescu had defeated Raonic in the first round of the Rogers Cup in Toronto in 2010 but lost their next meeting in Chennai at the start of 2012. Raonic found himself in a fight early on with Hanescu as the pair each held onto serve in a set which eventually went into a tiebreak. The Canadian saved a Romanian set point but needed three of his own to earn the set after 56 minutes. In the second set, Raonic went up on an early break and was in control when the weather moved in. He returned to take the set, stayed in command in the third and posted the victory in two hours, 19 minutes with 27 aces. Raonic says he is keen to take on Dimitrov. “He can do a lot of different things. I have to try to take control as much as I can and try to dictate as much as possible.”

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