In a rematch of the Australian Open quarterfinals, Milos Raonic reached the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open for the second year in a row by defeating Gael Monfils 7-5, 6-3. Raonic, who reached the semifinals in Indian Wells last year too, defeated Monfils in four sets at the Australian Open, but missed the last six weeks with a leg injury. He has shown no signs of that injury, and put on a solid performance in ousting the red-hot Monfils.
Late Break Gives Raonic First Set
Going into the match, it was assumed that breaks would be rare in the match. So when Raonic broke early, the advantage appeared to be huge. However, the big-serving Canadian was unable sustain the lead and Monfils was able to break back.
It seemed as though the opener was destined for a tiebreak when the 13th seed, serving at 5-6. Monfils, correctly stopped a point and challenged to show that a Raonic shot was out. However, the Frenchman could not take advantage of a 40-15 lead and the Canadian tied the game at deuce. He then brought up a set point, but could not convert when he missed a forehand wide. In the following point, Monfils had multiple chances to put the point away, but some amazing defence from the Canadian brought up a second set point. Again Monfils saved it, but it would be third-time-lucky for Raonic, who brought up a third opportunity and drew an unforced error to clinch the opening set.
Raonic Serves Into Last Four
The late break in the first set gave Raonic momentum going into the second set, and he immediately took advantage. After holding easily, the Canadian brought up a pair of break points on Monfils’ serve. He missed the first one, but drew an error on the second for the early break. He quickly consolidated for 3-0.
The French seemed to be slipping into one of the lulls he is known for, as he fell behind 0-30 in the next game. Despite tying the game, Raonic still had a break point at 30-40. But once again Monfils flipped a switch and saved it with a forehand winner, only for him to give Raonic a second break point after double-faulting at deuce. Raonic missed a desperate forehand long, but Monfils then missed a game point of his own by dumping a backhand into the net. The Canadian failed to convert two more break points before the Frenchman finally held.
Despite surviving a tough game, Monfils was unable to turn the momentum in his favour. He put some soft pressure on his opponents serve, but still could not reach break point. The set continued to go with serve until the Frenchman served to stay alive at 2-5. A double fault followed by an unforced error gave the Canadian double match point. However, the Canadian hit a pair of errors and Monfils went on to hold. The Frenchman was only delaying the inevitable, as Raonic easily held in the following game to return to the Indian Wells semifinals.
By the Numbers
Raonic did exactly what he normally does, winning a high percentage of his service points and limiting breaks against his serve. The Canadian won 77% of his first serve points and only allowed two break points, saving one. Raonic did not face a break point against his serve in the second set. Monfils was under constant pressure on his own serve, facing 13 break points, although he saved 10. He managed 66% of his first serve points, but was limited to 44% of his second serve points.
Raonic will look to take the next step in Indian Wells when he takes on David Goffin in the semifinals on Saturday.