ATP Delray Beach: Milos Raonic fights back to reach semifinals
Milos Raonic crushes a backhand during his quarterfinal win. Photo: A. Patron/Camerasport

Top seed Milos Raonic survived a stern test from Kyle Edmund to advance to the Delray Beach Open semifinals on Friday night, battling back to top the Brit 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Edmund got off to the stronger start, but could not hang with the world number four as a hot run late in the second set gave Raonic all the momentum he needed to blast into his second semifinal of 2017.

Edmund starts strong

The underdog Brit had to weather an early storm, as Raonic opened with a pair of strong service games and put pressure on Edmund’s serve in the fourth game, twice standing at break point. However, the Brit was up to the task and swiftly turned the tables. After only winning two points on the Canadian’s serve in his first three return games, Edmund raced ahead 15-40 in the crucial seventh game and converted his second break point to take a 4-3 lead in the set.

The one sloppy game from Raonic proved costly, as the break seemed to give Edmund all the momentum he needed. Neither player would lose a point on serve for the remainder of the opening set, with Edmund serving out a pair of love games to take a one-set-to-love lead over the top seed.

Raonic builds late momentum

Edmund’s confidence carried over to the second set, as he continued to dominate his service games. The Brit would only lose one point on serve in his first three service games, making it a run of five games since the break in the opening set only losing one point on serve. However, Raonic was not about to be outdone, holding to 15 in his first four service games of the second set.

Raonic hits a forehand earlier in the week in Florida. Photo: Delray Beach Open
Raonic hits a forehand earlier in the week in Florida. Photo: Delray Beach Open

Just as Raonic threw in a costly bad service game midway through the first set, Edmund returned the favour in the second. The Brit’s run of dominant serving was snapped as he fell behind 30-40 when serving at 3-4 and the top seed took advantage, converting his third break point of the match to put himself within a game of levelling the match. Raonic made no mistake, holding to love in the following game to send the match to a deciding set.

Early break enough for Raonic

The top seed carried his momentum over into the second set and rode it to a break point in the opening game of the second set. Raonic converted to take early control of the decider, consolidating with a hold and stretching his run to five games unanswered from 3-3 in the second to 2-0 in the third.

Raonic hits a backhand on Friday night in Delray Beach. Photo: Delray Beach Open
Raonic hits a backhand on Friday night in Delray Beach. Photo: Delray Beach Open

Raonic is one of the tour’s best front runners when up a break and he was at his strong-serving best for the remainder of the set, never giving Edmund a look to break back. The closest the Brit would come was in the eighth game, when he pushed the top seed to deuce but could not bring up a break point. The Canadian would ride his big serve over the finish line, punching his ticket to the semifinals with a love hold.

By the numbers

Raonic did what he did best in the quarterfinal duel, pounding ten aces and winning 90 percent of his first serve points (45 out of 50). He limited Edmund to two break points in the match, both in the seventh game of the opening set. The Canadian was also strong in converting his own break points, winning two of four, including both after missing two in the fourth game of the opening set.

Raonic will renew hostilities with Juan Martin del Potro in the semifinals. The pair have split both their previous meetings, both on hard courts back in 2013, with del Potro winning the more recent meeting in Tokyo, while Raonic was victorious earlier that year on home soil in Montreal.