Milos Raonic has made it to his second final in three ATP tournaments this season, beating Belgium’s David Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 on Saturday at Indian Wells, California.
Until this match, Raonic had yet to drop a set in the tournament, coming through a draw that included world number seven Tomas Berdych. The 12th ranked Canadian beat no. 18 Goffin in the semifinal to set up a blockbuster last day against either Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal. Djokovic is the top rated player in the world, while Nadal is fifth in the ATP rankings.
Raonic took one break point and saved another for a tidy first set, where he pounded six aces, including a 235 kilometre per hour serve in the California desert to subdue Goffin early.
When it looked like he was going to cruise rest of the way, Raonic encountered some trouble at the start of the second set that would foreshadow the rest of the middle frame.
“I lost my way a little bit, I got into his rhythm,” Raonic said in his on-court interview post-match. “I really went for it in the third set and it came together.”
On his opening service game of the second set Raonic committed three double faults but escaped unscathed. He wasn’t so fortunate on his next serve, where Goffin was able to break him on love to take a 3-1 lead. While Raonic managed to get back on serve, the Canadian was broken again down 4-3 and Goffin served out the second set, forcing the decider.
“I think the most important thing for me was to stick to my identity,” Raonic said of overcoming his second set difficulties. Last year he lost to Roger Federer in the semifinals. “It was great to play here in my second semifinal, make the most of it, I really wanted to make sure that’s what I did, I went for it and it came through.”
Good times for Goffin ended soon when he made a series of poor shots on his opening service game of the third set, sandwiched between a pair of Raonic holds as the Canadian went up 3-0. From there, Raonic was able to pace the rest of the match and see himself to his third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final.
Djokovic and Nadal took the court following Raonic’s victory, with the winner advancing to face the Canadian on Sunday.
In his career Raonic has now reached 17 tour finals, winning eight titles. His latest tournament victory was in January when he lifted the trophy at Brisbane International beating Federer in the final. He followed that up with a semifinal appearance at the Australian Open, where an injury forced him to struggle in a loss to Andy Murray.
“I won’t kick my feet up,” Raonic said when asked if he’ll be watching the Djokovic-Nadal semifinal. “I have some more work left to do today. It’ll be a great opportunity for myself tomorrow. I’m here to try to make the most of my opportunities. I work hard for them and I’m trying to put it together.
Raonic’s last Masters 1000 final was in 2014 finishing runner-up in Paris. His first final at this level was in Montreal a year earlier. Incidentally, it was Djokovic who beat Raonic in Paris, while Nadal did the same in Montreal.