ATP World Tour Finals: Milos Raonic dominates Gael Monfils for first win

Milos Raonic avenged a loss on home soil back in July by blowing past Gael Monfils for his first ever win at the year-end championships.

ATP World Tour Finals: Milos Raonic dominates Gael Monfils for first win
Milos Raonic celebrates his victory over Gael Monfils on Sunday night. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Milos Raonic
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Gael Monfils

World number four Milos Raonic won his first ever ATP World Tour Finals match on Sunday night by defeating first-time qualifier Gael Monfils in straight sets. The Canadian was dominant on serve, never facing a break point or really being challenged on serve as he dominated the rallies to score a 6-3, 6-4 victory. From the very beginning, Raonic was in control, pushing Monfils around the court and making him pay for missed opportunities. The Canadian never gave his flamboyant opponent a change to take control of the match as he took the lead in group Ivan Lendl.

Quick start for Raonic

It was Raonic who set the tone right out of the gate, hitting two aces in his first service game before starting to apply pressure on the Monfils serve in the Frenchman’s first service game. It was the Canadian controlling the rallies and a backhand winner up the line gave him a break point in that game. Monfils saved it with a big serve and was forced to save a second two points later with an ace. After saving a third, back-to-back double faults from deuce handed the break to Raonic for a 2-0 lead, which he quickly stretched to 3-0 with a hold.

Milos Raonic serves during his opening match win. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Milos Raonic serves during his opening match win. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

As is often the case with Raonic, once the Canadian had an early lead, the remainder of the set became a formality. Monfils would start to find consistency and was able to hold his serve with ease, but the Frenchman was unable to put any pressure on his opponents serve. Raonic continued to stay on the front foot, smoking his serve and pushing Monfils around the court. Serving for the set, the fourth seed was untroubled, holding to 15 and closing it out with a forehand winner.

Persistence pays off for Raonic

Looking to replicate his early dominance from the opening set, Raonic started putting the pressure on Monfils as the Frenchman serve to open the second set. It was a poorly missed drop shot from the Frenchman that let Raonic back into the game before the Canadian ripped an amazing crosscourt return to set up break point. However, he would miss a lob long and Monfils would go on to hold. Raonic kept coming, taking a 0-40 lead in the Frenchman’s next service game, but Monfils managed to save all three before holding.

Gael Monfils attempts a tweener during his loss on Sunday. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Gael Monfils attempts a tweener during his loss on Sunday. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

While the Frenchman was facing constant pressure on his serve, the same could not be said for his opponent. Raonic was cruising on serving and every time it looked like Monfils was getting into a game, the Canadian’s serve came to the rescue. In the seventh game, some sloppy errors from Monfils gave Raonic a break point at 40-AD and, at the end of a long baseline rally, the Frenchman closed into the net only to be passed by a slice backhand by his opponent. Now up 4-3, Raonic cruised through his final two service games, closing out his first win at the O2 with an ace.

By the numbers

Raonic was ferocious on serve, smoking 12 aces and winning 86 percent of his first serve points and even managed to back up his first serve by winning 68 percent of his second serve points. He never faced a break point in the match. Monfils won a solid 75 percent of his first serve points, but only 48 percent of his seconds. The Frenchman was broken twice on eight break points. One of the keys to the match was Raonic’s net attack, where he won over 80 percent of points at the net.

The Ivan Lendl group will return to the court on Tuesday with Raonic taking on Novak Djokovic with top spot on the line, while Monfils will battle Dominic Thiem in a crucial fight for survival.