Milos Raonic continued to ride his serve in the round of sixteen at the Mutua Madrid Open, saving all the break points he faced in a straight sets defeat of world number seven Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to advance to the quarterfinals in the Spanish capital for the second year in a row. The Canadian was strong on the baseline, dominating points and pummeling his serve from start to finish, claiming the only two breaks he needed to win 6-4, 6-4.
Early break enough for Raonic
The big-hitting Canadian set the tone for the match on the very first point, when he immediately put pressure on Tsonga with a combination of huge groundstrokes, eventually resulting in a winner. Before long, Raonic was up double break point, and converted the first one with a huge return that Tsonga could not handle.
The world number ten entered the match having not had his serve broken all tournament, meaning it was going to be tough for Tsonga already to get back into the set. Raonic picked up where he left off in the last round on serve, dominating in his opening game. He had a chance to break the set wide open in the third game, again holding a break point, but this time it was Tsonga’s turn to hit a big serve. Despite holding, the Frenchman had no answer to the missile serve, only managing three points on the Canadian’s serve all set. Raonic would ride that serve through the opener, closing it out 6-4.
Raonic hangs on to advance
Tsonga knew he would need to solve the Canadian serve if he wanted to have any chance of winning, but also needed to protect his own too. After the first three games went with serve, Tsonga gave himself a chance for the first time in a Raonic service game, crushing a huge return to bring up double break point. But the Canadian blasted a serve through the world number seven on the first one, and Tsonga netted a forehand on the second. A pair of huge serves saw Raonic hold to end the threat.
The missed opportunity would haunt Tsonga, as he would not get another chance to break the Raonic serve. In the following game, the Canadian immediately made his opponent pay for failing to break, racing ahead 0-40. While Tsonga saved the first break point with an ace, he missed his forehand down the line on the next point to give Raonic the break lead at 3-2. That break would prove to be a death sentence for the Frenchman, as he could not solve the Canadians serve. The remainder of the set went with serve, with the Canadian blasting three big serves to bring up match point, converting his second with another big serve.
By the numbers
Once again, the Canadian’s serve did the damage. He saved both break points he faced, both coming in the fourth game of the second set, and only lost two points on his first serve, good for 92 percent. He backed that up by winning 70 percent of his second serve points. Tsonga saved two of four break points and only won 47 percent of his second serve points.
Raonic’s much-improved baseline game was on display in this match, as he dominated points and wore the Frenchman down. He more than doubled Tsonga in winners, 25 to 11, and only had a couple more errors, 19 to 16. While he has not been attacking the net as often as he did on the hard courts, Raonic has been getting the job done on the baseline so far in Madrid.
By reaching the quarterfinals of Madrid, Raonic has defended his last big chunk of points before October, meaning his ranking can go nowhere but up for the rest of 2016. Between now and next January, Raonic only has a mere 630 points to defend, 250 of which comes from his title in St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg is there only event where he has more than 90 points to defend and won more than two matches in a row last year.
The world number ten will face a massive test in next round, when he tries to stop world number one Novak Djokovic. Djokovic blew out Raonic in their last meeting, back in the Indian Wells final in March.