Milos Raonic got his clay campaign underway at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters on Monday, riding his powerful serve to a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Italian wildcard Marco Cecchinato. The Canadian’s serve was not broken in the match.
Raonic Holds On for Opening Set
It would not take long for Raonic to get the breakthrough that he needed. In the fourth game, the Canadian brought up his first break point and converted for the early 3-1 lead. For lower ranked players, falling behind and early break against Raonic is often a death sentence. However, Raonic’s serve was not firing at full capacity. While he did not lose a point on his first serve until his fourth service game, he did not hit an ace until this third.
The Canadian had a chance to break the set wide open in the sixth game, holding double break point at 15-40, but Cecchinato saved both and held. In the following game, Raonic struggled with his serve and Cecchinato took advantage. The Italian held three break points, but could not convert any of them. Eventually, Raonic managed to hold serve to escape the game and take a 5-2 lead. That would prove to be the Italian’s last chance, as Raonic easily held in his next game to take the opening set.
Late Break Sends Raonic Through
Cecchinato wanted to avoid the same nightmare start in the second set, and cruised through his first two serves games, match Raonic point for point. However, the Canadian turned up the pressure in the fifth game and brought up a pair of break points. Like the sixth game of the first set, the Italian was up to the challenge and saved both break points to keep himself a step ahead at 3-2.
Despite Cecchinato’s best efforts, he had no response to the powerful Raonic serve. While the Italian did a good job off holding off Raonic in his own games, he struggled mightily on his return. He did not hold a single break point in the second set, only claiming a mere six points on the powerful Canadian serve. At 5-5, the tenth seed made his move. Raonic battled to break point and converted his first opportunity to grab a late breakthrough. As he often does, Raonic served out the match with ease to book his place in the second round.
By the Numbers
Raonic opened up the tournament with 13 aces, and won 82% of his first serve points. He saved all three break points that he faced, all of them coming in the seventh game of the first set. Cecchinato saved two break points in each set, but surrendered one per set as well which was all Raonic needed to wrap up the victory in an hour and 21 minutes.
Raonic awaits the winner between Daniel Gimeno-Traver and Pablo Cuevas in the second round.