ATP Basel: Milos Raonic collapses again while outserved by Ricardas Berankis

Milos Raonic blew a set lead and was unable to create any chances on his opponents serve as he crashed out in the first round of the Swiss Indoors against a qualifier.

ATP Basel: Milos Raonic collapses again while outserved by Ricardas Berankis
Ricardas Berankis
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Milos Raonic

Second seed Milos Raonic’s struggles with maintain leads continued at the Swiss Indoors on Tuesday as, for the fourth tournament in a row (excluding his walkover in Beijing), the Canadian was eliminated despite winning the opening set. This time, the lucky beneficiary of a Raonic collapse was qualifier Ricardas Berankis, who managed to outserve the Canadian over the final two sets to claim at 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory.

Raonic scores lone break to take opener

In any match involving Milos Raonic, service games are expected to be pretty automatic. That was not the case in the opening set of this match as, while both men held most of their service games without facing break points, very few games would be described as easy. Raonic, who is one of the best servers one tour, held to 30 in his first three games, needing to escape 30-all twice.

Milos Raonic hits a backhand. Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
Milos Raonic hits a backhand. Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Berankis was mildly better in his first two games, holding to 30 and 15, but things went south in his third game. Serving at 2-3, the Lithuanian went down 0-40 and could not recover, falling on the second break point to give the lead to Raonic. Normally that would be a death sentence, but Raonic was not his usual self on served and struggled to consolidate, needing to battle through deuce to hold for 5-2. Finally, after Berankis held to make Raonic serve out the set, the Canadian found his normal serving level, holding to love to seal the opening set.

Berankis returns the favour

Both players seemed a bit more comfortable in the second set, as most of the holds were to 15. The two men were matching each other shot for shot and neither was able to create many opportunities. Just like the opening set, it only took one truly sloppy game from a player to decide the set. This time it was Raonic who blinked, as it was his turn to be broken in the sixth game to 30 as Berankis took the lead.

Berankis lines up a forehand. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Berankis lines up a forehand. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Like Raonic had in the first set, Berankis struggled to consolidate in the following game, needing to battle through a deuce to hold. The mirror image to the first set continued as the second seed held to force his opponent to serve out the set, only for the Lithuanian to hold to love to level the match and send it to a decider.

Raonic struggles mount as Berankis rolls

Raonic had won the first set of every match he’d played dating back to the first round of the US Open, but was only 5-3 over that span. History seemed destined to repeat itself as the Canadian struggled at the start of the third set, saving a pair of break points before holding just to start the set. Berankis, however, was still going strong on serve and gave Raonic no openings. In the fifth game, the Lithuanian got his opening and took advantage, breaking for a 3-2 lead.

Berankis crushes a forehand. Photo: Daniel Smith/Getty Images
Berankis crushes a forehand. Photo: Daniel Smith/Getty Images

With the way Berankis was serving, it was looking like it would be tough for the second seed to get back into the match. Berankis would consolidate with a strong hold and moved to within a game of victory with a hold to love. Serving to stay in the match, Raonic cracked again, being broken for the match

By the numbers

In most categories, Raonic’s serve was stronger than Berankis’. He had 13 aces to the Lithuanian’s one, got more first serves into play and won the same percentage of first serve points at 76 percent. But a 39 percent win rate on his second serve proved very costly. The Canadian was also completely unable to create chances on the Berankis serve, as his only break points came in the game where he broke in the first set. Berankis, on the other hand, won 64 percent of his second serves and created five break points, converting three.

Berankis goes on to play Frederico Delbonis in the second round.