Milos Raonic

Raonic rolls into quarterfinals

Canada’s Milos Raonic strolled into the post-match interview room at Rexall Centre and immediately looked over at the television monitor beside his seat. He watched the screen intently as Roger Federer and Marin Cilic squared off on the stadium court before sitting down to discuss his 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Julien Benneteau at the Rogers Cup.

TORONTO — Canada’s Milos Raonic strolled into the post-match interview room at Rexall Centre and immediately looked over at the television monitor beside his seat.

He watched the screen intently as Roger Federer and Marin Cilic squared off on the stadium court before sitting down to discuss his 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Julien Benneteau at the Rogers Cup.

Raonic will next meet Feliciano Lopez in the quarter-finals but the possibility of another semifinal showdown with Federer — just a month after they met in the final four at Wimbledon — has Canadian tennis fans drooling.

So, is a potential rematch with the Swiss star in the back of his mind?

“No, I just enjoy to watch tennis,” Raonic said with a grin.

Federer ended Raonic’s run at the All England Club before losing to Novak Djokovic in the final. It was a career-best performance at the Grand Slam event for the 23-year-old Canadian, but his performance against Federer left him disappointed and frustrated.

Raonic responded last week by winning in Washington and he has maintained the momentum this week, although he has been tested in both of his matches. The No. 6 seed from Thornhill, Ont., barely got by American Jack Sock in his opener before getting another stiff challenge from Benneteau on Thursday night.

The hard-serving Raonic controlled the early pace with his powerful ground strokes but the Frenchman picked up two breaks in the second set to pull even. Raonic broke Benneteau at love to open the third set and was never threatened after that.

“Today I was (in) much more (of) a comfort zone — created my opportunities,” Raonic said.

It was a day of upsets at the US$3.78-million Masters 1000 series tournament as three of the top four seeds were eliminated.

South Africa’s Kevin Anderson got things started in the morning by knocking off No. 3 Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 7-6 (8), 7-5 and No. 13 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France followed with a 6-2, 6-2 win over top-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia.

In the evening, Lopez pulled out a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic. The second-seeded Federer held off Cilic, the No. 15 seed from Croatia, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (3), 6-4.

With a near-capacity crowd cheering him on, Raonic had little trouble in the opening set. He was pushed to deuce at one point but a volley winner and 221-km/h service winner gave him the hold and a 4-3 lead.

In the following game, Raonic landed a scorching forehand in the corner to set up a break point and took the game when Benneteau made an unforced error. He closed out the set when the ball struck the net tape and softly landed on Benneteau’s side.

Benneteau appeared to get more of a read on Raonic’s serve in the second set but he couldn’t match up in the third. The Frenchman fought off three match points in the penultimate game before Raonic closed things out in one hour 47 minutes.

Earlier, Djokovic was unable to settle into his usual rhythm and it proved costly against Tsonga, who needed only 63 minutes to complete the straight-sets victory.

“Just nothing was going,” Djokovic said. “No baseline, no serve, no return. So (it was) just generally (a) very bad day, very poor performance. (I) couldn’t do much.”

Tsonga had eight aces and Djokovic continually struggled to keep his service returns in bounds. Tsonga closed out the victory when Djokovic returned a serve wide.

A visibly elated Tsonga did some shadow boxing and jumped up and down before waving to the receptive crowd.

“It’s not every day you get the rewards of what you’re doing every day during the year,” he said. “You leave your family, practise every day hard, suffer a lot on the court. And when you win a match like this, you just feel good.”

Djokovic barely got by Gael Monfils of France a day earlier, needing a third-set tiebreaker to avoid a loss in his tournament opener. He came into Thursday’s match with 11 straight wins over Tsonga, but was nowhere near adding a 12th.

The three-time Rogers Cup champ said he didn’t feel comfortable in either match on the fast hardcourt.

“I wasn’t hitting the ball clean and a lot of unforced errors,” Djokovic said. “It’s maybe (a) lack of matches on this surface and well, it takes time. Let’s just say it’s going to be better, I’m sure.”

Tsonga will play No. 8 Andy Murray of Britain in the quarter-finals. Murray advanced when Richard Gasquet of France withdrew due to an abdominal strain.

Djokovic planned to maximize his time on the practice court over the next few days as he gets ready for next week’s tournament in Cincinnati ahead of the U.S. Open at the end of the month.

“Obviously I’m disappointed that I lost this early in the tournament, but on the other hand I had a tough draw yesterday and today again. Tsonga played (at) a very high level, great quality shots.

“All I can say is well done and I have to move on.”

Federer will next play fifth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain, who defeated Ivan Dodig of Croatia 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Just Posted

Red Deer church donates to Safe Harbour

It was all about helping those in need at Safe Harbour in… Continue reading

Former firefighter with PTSD sues Syncrude over suspended benefits, dismissal

CALGARY — A lawsuit filed by a former firefighter and paramedic against… Continue reading

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

HALIFAX — Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi may have hoped to quietly disappear from… Continue reading

Democrats aren’t buying Trump’s shutdown-ending ‘compromise’

WASHINGTON — In a bid to break the shutdown stalemate, President Donald… Continue reading

Updated: Red Deer welcomes 2019 Canada Winter Games Team Alberta

About 250 Alberta athletes are participating in the Games

Students seen mocking Native Americans could face expulsion

One 11-minute video of the confrontation shows the Haka dance and students loudly chanting

Mexican pipeline explosion kills 71, leaves nightmare of ash

TLAHUELILPAN, Mexico — Gerardo Perez returned Saturday to the scorched field in… Continue reading

Tall timber towers taking root in Canada as builders look to go green

TORONTO — Six years ago architect Michael Green took the stage at… Continue reading

May plans next move in Brexit fight as chances rise of delay

Some say a lack of action could trigger a ‘public tsunami’

Group challenges ruling for doctors to give referrals for services that clash with beliefs

A group of five Canadian doctors and three professional organizations is appealing

Major winter storm wreaks havoc on U.S. travel

Nearly 5,000 flights were cancelled Sunday around the country

Canadians across the country march to end violence against women

Women and their allies participated in marches across Canada on Saturday, from… Continue reading

Former Olympian Humphries files harassment complaint with Bobsleigh Canada

CALGARY — The national governing body for bobsleigh and skeleton has confirmed… Continue reading

Fire next door to B.C. pipeline fuel tank facility under control

BURNABY, B.C. — A fire just a few hundred metres from the… Continue reading

Most Read