In his second appearance at the O2, Milos Raonic is into the semifinals of the ATP World Tour Finals after finishing second in the Ivan Lendl group with a 2-1 record, clinching his spot by defeating debutant Dominic Thiem in straight sets in the final match of the round robin in the group. Thiem hung with Raonic in the opening set, but was never able to threaten the Canadian’s mighty serve as Raonic eventually seized control of the match and cruised to a 7-6(5), 6-3 win.
Raonic’s rocket decides tiebreak
Raonic got off to a flyer on serve, holding his first two games to love. However, some errant forehand began to let Thiem into his service games, along with costing the Canadian a few times at 30-30 on his opponent’s serve. In each man’s fourth service game, they were forced to battle through a deuce, but the match proceeded without any break points. While cruising through his own service games, Raonic consistently got to 30 and even deuce on the Thiem serve, but could not create any break points.
In the tiebreak, an errant backhand from Thiem gave Raonic the first minibreak and a 2-0 lead. But an error would give the minibreak right back as the Austrian leveled at 2-2. The script flipped as a backhand error from Raonic gave the lead to his opponent as Thiem stole both points on the Canadian’s serve. Backhand errors continued to be decisive, as another off the Austrian’s racquet allow Raonic to turn a 2-4 deficit into a 5-4 lead after back-to-back aces following the error. A brilliant forehand drew an easy smash which Raonic put away to bring up double set point. Thiem saved the first, but the fourth seed hit a third straight ace to wrap up the opener.
Thiem slows, Raonic rises
Looking to capitalise on the momentum from winning the opener, Raonic put Thiem under pressure immediately in the opening game of the set, drawing errors to set up triple break point, the first three break points of the match. Thiem saved the first, but another backhand wide surrendered the early break to his big-serving opponent. The wheels seemed to be coming off for the Austrian as more errors poured off his racquet and gave Raonic double break point in the third game, but he rallied to hold and keep the deficit at 1-2.
Despite cleaning up his game after falling behind, Thiem was facing the daunting task of breaking the Raonic serve. He came nowhere close, as the Canadian continued to rain fire down upon him. The Austrian failed to reach break point in the match. Serving to stay alive, the errors began to pile up again for Thiem and he found himself down match point at 40-AD. He saved it with a beautiful serve-and-one forehand winner, but back to back backhand errors sent Raonic into the semifinals.
By the numbers
Raonic was the superior player in practically every way. His serve was as good as ever with 14 aces and 86 percent of first serve points won while never facing a single break point. He also had more winners, 31 to 17, and fewer unforced errors, 14 to 18. He statistically led Thiem in every single important category except for net points won percentage, although Raonic won more points at the net (have played 50 percent more points at the net).
Raonic awaits the winner of group John McEnroe in the semifinals, which could mean a third London clash with Andy Murray in 2016.